Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Education


Faculty of Community Services, Education and Social Sciences

First Advisor

Dr John Wood


High reliability entities governed by statutory regulations are required to comply with safety guidelines and specifications. When fatalities or serious injuries occur in otherwise preventable accidents these entities are routinely exonerated from any responsibility by claiming to have ‘systemic management problems’ and their managing coalitions have been able to hide behind the ‘corporate veil’. This thesis maintains that the core managerial competencies needed to prevent preventable accidents, can be acquired through training, particularly if their mastery is mandated by a strong regulatory and compliance regime. The cases chosen for analysis revealed ten core managerial and organisational competencies and compliance as issues of concern, in a small n study Commission of Inquiry and Coronial reports. Other than ‘acts of God’, most accidents resulting in fatalities and serious injury, occur in organisations where prior knowledge of a potential accident existed and this knowledge was not utilised. Most accidents in high reliability organisations might have been prevented if the cascade of events leading to the accidents could have been interrupted. The competencies, revealed by the research as necessary to intervene in the unfolding of preventable accidents, are generally not taught in orthodox management studies programs in higher education institutions. However, when these competencies are inadequate they not only result in accidents but also cause orthodox management problems such as production delays and losses, costly litigation, increasing indemnity insurance and erosion of an organisation’s credibility in the marketplace.