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Risk Perception in the U.K. Oil and Gas Production Industry: Are Expert Loss-Prevention Managers' Perceptions Different From Those of Members of the Public?

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This article investigates potential differences in risk perception between experts (loss-prevention managers in the U.K. oil and gas production industry) and nonexperts (managers and students). Extant research on expert versus nonexpert perceptions of risk is reviewed, followed by the present study concerning risk perceptions of seven pen-picture scenarios involving the occurrence of hazardous events in the U.K. oil and gas production industry. In contrast to many of the earlier studies of expert versus nonexpert perceptions of risk, the present analysis concludes that experts did not judge the overall riskiness of the portrayed hazardous events as less risky than the nonexperts. Nevertheless, the experts believe more strongly than our nonexperts that the risks portrayed in the scenarios pose little threat to future generations, are more precisely known, and are relatively controllable. Use of multiple regression analysis to help uncover the basis of overall riskiness assessments for expert and lay respondents was inconclusive, however. Finally, little evidence was found that nonexperts were any more heterogeneous in their risk perceptions than experts. It may be that the nature of the risks assessed in the present study may account for the general lack of clear expert versus nonexpert differences in overall perceptions of the riskiness of hazardous events in the North Sea. Earlier findings of strong expert versus nonexpert differences in risk perception assessed hazards of major public concern. It is inferred that using such extreme hazards may have resulted in an exaggerated view of differences in expert versus public (nonexpert) perception of risk.
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Keywords: Risk perception; expert judgment; oil and gas production

Document Type: Original Article

Affiliations: 1: Strathclyde Graduate Business School, Glasgow, United Kingdom., 2: Leeds University Business School, Leeds, United Kingdom., 3: Creating Insights, Bristol, United Kingdom.

Publication date: 2000-10-01

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