“Tough Love”: Unpacking the dynamics of Turner’s stage 6 (cultural readjustment)

This study examines the perceptions and attitudes of RAF personnel following the 2006 fatal loss of Nimrod XV230 and subsequent Public Inquiry. The main focus was “cultural readjustment” and organisational learning. Phase 1 was carried out in 2010-2011 (18-month aftermath following the Haddon-Cave report) and Phase 2 in 2016 using follow up interviews, focus groups, observations and document analysis. The results point to a number of barriers to change in the early days post-inquiry, including fear of litigation and risk aversion, a military culture of ‘can-do’, normalized rule-breaking and insufficient safety expertise. Facilitators include leadership and followership, publicity and training and an enhanced regulatory framework. Ongoing disrupting factors were identified that may make the organisation vulnerable e.g. churn of critical personnel. The study suggests that organisations settle into a new quasi-stationary equilibrium following disaster, which may provide the ‘illusion’ of safety through increased safety bureaucracy.