Research Papers

On Measuring Engineering Risk Attitudes1

[+] Author and Article Information
Douglas L. Van Bossuyt

Complex Engineered Systems
Design Laboratory,
School of Mechanical, Industrial and
Manufacturing Engineering,
Oregon State University,
Corvallis, OR 97331
e-mail: Douglas.VanBossuyt@gmail.com

Andy Dong

Faculty of Engineering and
Information Technologies,
University of Sydney,
Sydney NSW 2006, Australia
e-mail: Andy.Dong@sydney.edu.au

Irem Y. Tumer

Complex Engineered Systems
Design Laboratory,
School of Mechanical, Industrial and
Manufacturing Engineering,
Oregon State University,
Corvallis, OR 97331
e-mail: Irem.Tumer@oregonstate.edu

Lucila Carvalho

Faculty of Education and Social Work,
University of Sydney,
Sydney NSW 2006, Australia
e-mail: Lucila.Carvalho@sydney.edu.au

1A version of this paper appeared in the Proceedings of the 2011 International Design Engineering Technical Conference & Computers in Engineering Conference, 23rd International Conference on Design Theory and Methodology.

2Corresponding author.

Contributed by the Design Automation Committee of ASME for publication in the JOURNAL OF MECHANICAL DESIGN. Manuscript received November 27, 2012; final manuscript received July 3, 2013; published online September 18, 2013. Assoc. Editor: David Gorsich.

J. Mech. Des 135(12), 121001 (Sep 18, 2013) (13 pages) Paper No: MD-12-1587; doi: 10.1115/1.4025118 History: Received November 27, 2012; Revised July 03, 2013

Risk management is a critical part of engineering practice in industry. Yet, the attitudes of engineers toward risk remain unknown and are not measured. This paper presents the development of a psychometric scale, the engineering-domain-specific risk-taking (E-DOSPERT) test, to measure engineers' risk aversion and risk seeking attitudes. Consistent with a similar psychometric scale to assess general risk attitudes, engineering risk attitude is not single domain and is not consistent across domains. Engineers have different risk attitudes toward five identified domains of engineering risk: processes, procedures and practices; engineering ethics; training; product functionality and design; and legal issues. Psychometric risk profiling with E-DOSPERT provides companies a standard to assess domain-specific engineering risk attitude within organizations and across organizations. It provides engineering educators a standard to assess the understanding of engineering students to the types of risks they would encounter in professional practice and their personal attitude toward responding to those risks. Appropriate interventions can then be implemented to shape risk attitudes as appropriate. Risk-based design decisions can also be shaped by a better understanding of engineer and customer risk attitude. Understanding engineers' risk attitudes is crucial in interpreting how individual engineers will respond to risk in their engineering activities and the numerous design decisions they make across the various domains of engineering risk found in professional practice.

Copyright © 2013 by ASME
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