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2011 Vol.3
Lessons Organizational Members Should Learn from the Nuclear Plant Disaster

2011/07/01

The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident, caused by the tsunami following by the Great East Japan Earthquake, resulted in leakage of radioactivity into the environment. Subsequently, the responses to the accident by the electric power company and the government as organizations as well as the nuclear power policy that had been pursued up to that point were strongly criticized both at home and abroad.
In this paper, the gist of such criticisms is organized into four areas: (1) a lack of leaders’ ability to disseminate information internationally, (2) slowness in responding to the accident, (3) imbalance between promotion and regulation, and (4) decisions that ignore future responsibilities. These four factors overlap with criticisms that had been raised against Japanese organizations before the accident. In other words, these problems are not limited to the electric power companies or the government. Accordingly, the Japanese need to learn lessons from the accident, taking it as their own problem. This paper analyzes the cause of each issue and then points out the lessons learned.
These lessons highlight the importance of (1) improving the logic behind the selection of leaders and nurturing a healthy, critical mind within each follower, (2) training people at operation sites and developing their trust in top management, (3) having top management that encourages its subordinates to engage in essential, fact-based discussions when it creates an entity responsible for checking activities, without being satisfied by the mere act of creating it, and (4) establishing new ethics in decision making. Many Japanese organizations are considered weak in these points. The problems that exist are profound and cannot be solved by simply changing people’s attitudes; however, it is important to be aware of these problems and constantly try to apply the lessons learned in the future.

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