Field operations in the high Arctic - experienced feedback and tacit knowledge as key tools for safety management
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The paper demonstrates the importance of tacit knowledge to cope with various situations during field work in the high arctic. Two cases from field work at the University Center in Svalbard (UNIS) are shown to exemplify this: one boat trip and one snow mobile trip with researchers and students. Successful field operations depend heavily on technicians from the UNIS Field Safety Section that have the responsibility to assist in the planning and execution of every type of field work. Due to rapidly changing conditions, local variations, extreme weather conditions, lack of access to infrastructure and communication, successful safety performance is accomplished by individual’s ability to adapt to situations. The paper demonstrates that this ability to a large extent is a function of the tacit knowledge of the technicians. To improve the tacit knowledge of each technicians, systems and practices of experience feedback must be run to ensure individual and organizational learning from both failures as well as successes. This is in particular important in systems with great variability in climatic conditions and systems with organizational changes.