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This study was conducted to better understand how teams conceptualize risk before it can be quantified, and the processes by which a team forms a shared mental model of this pre-quantitative risk. Using an extreme case, this study analyzes seven months of team meeting transcripts, covering the entire lifetime of the team. Through an analysis of team discussions, a rich and varied structural model of risk emerges that goes significantly beyond classical representations of risk as the product of a negative consequence and a probability. In addition to those two fundamental components, the team conceptualization includes the ability to influence outcomes and probabilities, networks of goals, interaction effects, and qualitative judgments about the acceptability of risk, all affected by associated uncertainties. In moving from individual to team mental models, team members employ a number of strategies to gain group recognition of risks and to resolve or accept differences.
Date of Conference: 4-7 Jan. 2011