The Social Construction of Knowledge in Mission-Critical Environments

Lessons from the Flight Deck

  • Theodoros Katerinakis

Part of the Innovation, Technology, and Knowledge Management book series (ITKM)

Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xxxi
  2. Background and Communication Phenomena in Aviation

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 1-1
    2. Theodoros Katerinakis
      Pages 3-15
  3. Flights, Scenarios, and Knowledge Representation

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 37-37
    2. Theodoros Katerinakis
      Pages 39-58
  4. Knowledge Operators of Silence and Voice

    1. Front Matter
      Pages 89-89
    2. Theodoros Katerinakis
      Pages 137-181
    3. Theodoros Katerinakis
      Pages 183-207
  5. Back Matter
    Pages 209-237

About this book


This volume analyzes real in-flight communications to explain the dynamics of knowledge construction. With the use of a grounded theory approach, real-life scenarios for in-depth interviews with aviation informants were developed and analyzed using discourse analysis. The study revealed aspects of tacit knowledge and expertise behavior that develop in mission-critical environments.  Among the findings, the author discovered:

•         Silence is an interactional element and a  substantial contributing factor to both completed flights and aviation incidents/accidents

•         Hesitation is an early reaction when situational awareness is lacking

•         The aviation sub-cultures contain several distinct micro-cultures which affect professional responsibility and decision-making in micro-environments

•         Human errors should be acknowledged, discussed and repaired by all actors of the flight model

•         Non-verbal communication in institutional settings and mediated environments is instrumental to safe and efficient operations

The results suggest fruitful applications of theory to explore how knowledge is generated in highly structured, high-risk organizational environments, such as hospitals, nuclear plants, battlefields and crisis and disaster locations.

Katerinakis explains the emergent knowledge elements in communication command with messages “spoken-heard-understood-applied," from multiple stakeholders... The interplay of theory and real-flight examples... creates a valuable narrative both for the expert reader and the lay-person.

Ilias Panagopoulos, PhD

Command Fighter Pilot, Col (Ret)

Senior Trainer, Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) Training Organisation

Safety Manager, NATO Airlift Management Programme

In this path-breaking work, Theodore Katerinakis brings the study of human communication to the airplane cockpit as a knowledge environment. Katerinakis both builds on moves beyond human factors research and ecological psychology… It is a work of theoretical value across disciplines and organizational settings and of practical importance as well. His lively narrative adds to translational research by translating knowledge or evidence into action in mission-critical systems.

Douglas V. Porpora, PhD

Professor of Sociology & Director

Communication, Culture and Media

Drexel University


Knowledge Construction Mission-Critical Environments Situational Awareness Communication Aviation and Silence Communication Phenomena in Aviation Human Factors in Aviation-Related Issues Scenario of Hesitation Verbal Communication in Aviation Non-Verbal Communication in Aviation Paralanguage in Aviation High-Risk Organizational Environments

Authors and affiliations

  • Theodoros Katerinakis
    • 1
  1. 1.Drexel On-Line CouncilDrexel UniversityPhiladelphiaUSA

Bibliographic information

  • DOI
  • Copyright Information Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2019
  • Publisher Name Springer, Cham
  • eBook Packages Business and Management
  • Print ISBN 978-3-319-91013-0
  • Online ISBN 978-3-319-91014-7
  • Series Print ISSN 2197-5698
  • Series Online ISSN 2197-5701
  • Buy this book on publisher's site