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Arbitration Partially conflicting goals

Safety is often inseparable from other demands, such as cost-cutting, innovation, and stakeholder expectations. How do people and firms arbitrate between these various criteria?


Safety is an important goal for most organisations. However, decision-makers must also take other requirements into account: economic goals such as cost-cutting, innovation and business continuity; legal and societal requirements such as public tolerability of risk and aspirations for a more democratic decision-making process. There is a need better to understand how decision-makers arbitrate between maintaining stringent safety goals and these other considerations, at multiple levels: inside companies, in local government, at the national and European levels, and transversely to these different levels.

Research programme

This was the topic of FonCSI's 2006 call for proposals (which also included a second theme on vulnerabilities).

The researchers were asked, on the one hand, to report, from case studies, on the manner in which the arbitrations between various types of requirements actually take place, both formally and informally; and on the other hand to suggest new ways of establishing  these arbitrations.

The aim was to better understand how arbitrations and compromises are made between the various requirements, using case study analyses, and in particular to determine which processes could make them more explicit, more understandable and more likely to be up for debate.

The projects

> How catastrophe weighs in, in the arbitration on the future of urban industrial sites, a project that is being led by François Duchêne (ENTPE).

> From individual perception of industrial risks to collective action in favour of industrial safety: a territorial approach, a project led by the researcher community Irénée Zwarterook (Université du Littoral).

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