Improving Recognition of Near-Miss Events



Catherine Tinsley, McDonough School of Business, Georgetown University

Date and Time

February 15, 2018 3:30 PM - 5:00 PM


Open to the public.

No RSVP required


William J. Perry Conference Room
Encina Hall, Second Floor, Central, C231
616 Jane Stanford Way, Stanford, CA 94305


Abstract: Despite decades of research on organizational disasters, such events remain too common. Scholars across a wide range of disciplines agree that one of the most viable approaches to preventing such catastrophes is to observe near-misses and use them to identify and eliminate problems before they produce large failures. Unfortunately, these important warning signals are too often ignored because they are perceived and interpreted as successes rather than near-misses, near-failures, or simply failures.  Through a series of studies, we explore how organizational messages might nudge more recognition of a near-miss event as something other than a success.  The intent is not to make organizations more risk-averse, per se, but to make leaders with decision power more aware of the risks they assume and how the low probabilistic nature of high risk decisions facilitates our tendency to become more risk-tolerant over time.

Speaker Bio: Catherine Tinsley, Ph.D., is the Raffini Family Professor of Management at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, Faculty Director of the Georgetown University Women’s Leadership Institute, Academic Director of Georgetown McDonough’s Executive Master’s in Leadership program, and a Senior Policy Scholar at the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy.  Tinsley is an expert on principled leadership, workforce development, negotiations, and decision making.  She looks at how and why people make decisions, especially when managing risk, and empowering employees.  She applies decision analytic frameworks to understand leadership challenges, and expert and novice responses to natural disasters (such as hurricanes) and man-made disasters (terrorist attacks).

For the past three years, she participated in The World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland where she spoke about the interplay between confidence and economic empowerment. Tinsley has collaborated with the White House and U.S. State Department on developing programs related to gender and workforce development, including partnering with the Council of Women World Leaders to convene the first ever world-wide meeting of the Ministers of Women’s Affairs.  

Tinsley has served on three committees for the National Academy of Sciences— The Committee to Improve Intelligence Analysis for National Security, The Committee on Unifying Social and Cultural Frameworks in the Military, and the Committee on The Context of Military Environments (where she served as vice-Chair).   She has received several awards for her research as well as grants from NASA, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense and Army Research Office.  

Tinsley has published more than 50 articles and book chapters in peer-reviewed journals and her research has been covered extensively in the popular media.