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Examination Of Group Behavior During Mine Fire Escapes; Behavioral And Organizational Dimensions Of Underground Mine Fires
  • Published Date:
    1/1/2000
Filetype[PDF-39.31 KB]


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  • Description:
    It is suggested in chapter 1 that emergency activities (including escape) are not individualistic. They tend to be group responses. If escapes from mine fires are group activities, then preparation for such events must take group behavior into account. This chapter explores the hypothesis that the miners who escaped from the three mines under study did so as members of groups. For development of this chapter, the database was examined for evidence of the existence of escape groups and for instances when individualistic behavior was paramount. Illustrations of group and/or individualistic behavior were analyzed and representative examples are provided in the following discussion. The nature of groups was discussed in chapter 3 and the following working definition was offered: "We mean by a group a number of persons who communicate with one another often over a span of time, and who are few enough so that each person is able to communicate with all the others, not at second-hand, through other people, but face-to-face" [Homans 1950]. To determine whether or not groups existed during the fire evacuations, it is important that the concept of group be clearly defined. Therefore, the discussion started in chapter 3 will be elaborated here. The defining characteristics of group given in chapter 3 were taken from Homans [1950]. They include size, person-to-person com¬munication, feelings that members have for each other, explicit and implicit rules for behavior, and common activities. An additional characteristic that is sometimes used to define groups is cohesiveness. Kiesler and Kiesler [1970] state, "Cohesiveness would include not only the attraction that the group holds for its members but also any other force operating on the individual to stay in the group." Variables said to contribute to cohesiveness include "(1) the attractiveness of a group for its members," and "(2) the coordination of the efforts of the members" [Keisler 1970]. One source of the attraction to a group occurs when "the goals or exterior tasks confronting the group are consistent with those of the individual person, and can best be handled by group action" [Cartwright and Zander 1968, in Davis 1969]. In other words, a common goal and a coordinated effort mounted to achieve that goal contributes toward the creation of a cohesive group. As discussed in the earlier review of research (chapter 1), groups have frequently been studied in laboratory or simulation settings. These methods allowed control over variables of interest. Kiesler and Kiesler [1970] state, however, that they "find group variables conceptually imprecise and experimentally difficult to work with." Experimental control, in other words, is difficult to achieve in the study of groups. The richness of the naturalistic mine fire data may provide an opportunity for an examination of groups that cannot be found in laboratories or simulations because this environment was not

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