Covid-19: How to learn the lessons of policy failure

By | 25th October 2021

The dust is settling on the UK House of Commons report, produced jointly by its Select Committees on health and on science and technology, about the initial handling of the Covid-19 pandemic. Predictably, the government’s critics have used its 20/20 hindsight to argue that many lives would have been saved if only they had been in charge. The report’s main value, though, is in demonstrating precisely how the promised future public inquiry should not proceed. There may be therapeutic value in airing grievances but this does not help us understand what has happened.

Over the last fifty years, social scientists have learned how organizations fail. There is a substantial body of work from studies of construction failures, nuclear accidents and, most notably, the explosion of the Challenger space shuttle. The lessons have even been applied to reduce errors in surgery. You would not know any of this work existed if you read the report. But it provides an essential foundation for the inquiry….

A Social Science Space blog

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