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Department of Social Psychology

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London School of Economics
St Clements Building
Houghton Street

Tel:  +44 (0)20 7955 7712 
Fax:  +44 (0)20 7955 7565

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Dr Tom Reader

Assistant Professor in Organisational and Social Psychology

I am director of the MSc in Organisational and Social Psychology|, and lead a teaching module on Organisational and Social Decision-Making.

My research examines how social psychological processes (e.g. behaviours, belief systems) in groups and organisations influence the management of risk in complex socio-technical industries (e.g. aviation, healthcare, financial trading, energy).

I investigate questions on the following topics:

Decision-making: How do teams develop expertise for decision-making and coordination in time-pressured, uncertain, and high-risk situations? Can effective decision-making skills be trained and shared?

Teamwork and leadership: To what extent do group dynamics influence how teams evaluate risk during safety-critical work tasks? How do shared (or unshared) understandings of risk influence team behaviour and performance?

Organisational and safety culture: How do norms and practises for the management of risk within an organisation develop, and to what extent are they influenced by national culture? How can a ‘safety culture’ be measured, managed and changed within an organisation or industry, and is it a leading indicator of organisational performance?

I direct, alongside Dr Alex Gillespie|, the Inter-Personal and Organisational Communication (Ipoc) research group|

I studied for an MA and PhD in Psychology at the University of Aberdeen's School of Psychology. My doctorate investigated human error, teamwork, and shared evaluations of risk in healthcare teams. After completing my PhD, I took a post-doctoral fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust (in 2008), and then moved in 2010 to the Department of Social Psychology at the LSE. I have also previously worked in the UK oil and gas sector and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

I am a chartered member of the British Psychological Society, and am a member of the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society.

I review for a number of international peer review journals, including: Accident Analysis and Prevention; BMJ Quality and safety; British Journal of Anaesthesia; Critical Care Medicine; Human Factors; Intensive Care Medicine; Journal of Health Psychology; Journal of Organisational and Occupational Psychology: Journal of Risk Research; Medical Education; Risk Analysis; Safety Science. I am also on the editorial board for BMJ Simulation & Technology Enhanced Learning.

I am external examiner for the University of Liverpool's MSc in Critical & Major Incident Programme, and have examined 7 PhD theses (3 as external examiner).

I have peer-reviewed for a number of grant bodies (e.g. Wellcome Trust; Medical Research Council; Institute of Occupational Health and Safety; Research Council of Norway).

I regularly present at peer review and industry conferences, including Human Factors; Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology; BPS Social Psychology; Naturalistic Decision-Making

My research examines how social psychological processes (e.g. behaviours, belief systems) in groups and organisations influence the management of risk in complex socio-technical industries (e.g. aviation, healthcare, financial trading, energy).

I investigate research questions on decision-making, teamwork, and safety culture, and attempt to integrate the ‘human factor’ (and in particular social psychology) into models of risk management in complex organisational systems.

I have conducted academic research in numerous industries, including aviation, financial trading, healthcare, oil and gas, and public transport. I have also provided consultancy services for a range of clients, including: AKO Investment; BG Group; Bristow Helicopters; Care Quality Commission; Centrica; FirstGroup; HSBC; NATS Air Traffic Management; Pemex; Petrobras; Schlumberger; Shell. 

My research is conducted using both qualitative and quantitative techniques, including: cross-sectional surveys, experiments; incident analysis; interviews; observations; simulation; task analysis.

I direct, alongside Dr Alex Gillespie, the Inter-Personal and Organisational Communication (Ipoc) research group.| This is the laboratory under which my research projects are managed and led.

Current Research Projects

1. An investigation of whether safety culture (normative beliefs on risk-related practises) is, in part, predicted by national cultural tendencies. Conducted in the European Air Traffic Management industry, and funded by a research grant from Eurocontrol (a European Commission agency) since 2012 (PI: Dr Tom Reader; €290,000 cumulative). With Mark Noort|.  

2. The development of methods and measurements to develop a single ‘industry’ safety culture across a socio-technical system (Aviation) with multiple stakeholders (e.g. airports, airlines, air traffic control). Funded by the European Commission (PI: Dr Tom Reader; €190,000).

3. An investigation of the decision-making and team skills required for effectively managing risk and performance in Financial Trading. PhD project with Meghan Leaver|.

4. The development of a method for systematically analysing patient complaints about hospital care in order to identify, and provide an alternative measurement of, safety problems in healthcare systems. Funded by an LSE small grant (cumulative £20,000), with Dr Alex Gillespie|

5. Decision-making strategies for managing crisis and resource-constrained scenarios in Intensive Care. With Dr Steve Brett (Imperial College)

Completed Research Projects

6. Teamwork and leadership skills for effectively managing patient care in Critical Care Medicine. Funded by the Leverhulme Trust (PI: Dr Tom Reader; £60,000).

7. Investigating a social exchange relationship between organizational support for workforce health and employee safety citizenship behaviors. Conducted in the UK Oil and Gas Sector, and funded by the UK Health and Safety executive (with Dr Kathryn Mearns).

8. Developing a methodology for measuring safety culture in the Air Traffic Control (Funded by Eurocontrol, with Dr Kathryn Mearns). 

9. Teamwork and developing a shared awareness of risks to patients in the Intensive Care Unit. PhD funding award (£44,000) from the University of Aberdeen.   

I direct the Organisational and Social Psychology MSc programme| (PS404), lead a half-unit option on Organisational and Social Decision-Making (PS445), and am Chair of the Psychology Undergraduate Exam Board.

I also lecture and teach on the following courses: Societal Psychology (PS443), Creativity and Innovation (PS458), Group Dynamics (PS421) Research methods for Social Psychology (PS4.A), Introductory Social Psychology (PS102), and Advanced Decisions Sciences (OR435)

I supervise 10-15 MSc dissertations each year, and supervise the following PhD students. 

I supervise the following PhD students:

Meghan Leaver (First supervisor, with Dr Alex Gillespie|). Meghan's thesis investigates decision-making and team skills required for effectively managing risk and performance in financial trading.

Kevin Corti (second supervised with Dr Alex Gillespie). Kevin's thesis investigates the 'cyranoid' effect.

Phillipe Fauquet-Alekhine (second supervised with Prof Saadi Lahlou|). Phillipe's thesis investigates human factors issues in nuclear power plants.

Teresa Whitney (co-supervised with Dr Caroline Howarth|). Teresa's thesis investigates decision-making in multi-cultural environments.

To view a full list of my publications, please click here| to visit my Google Scholar page.

Selected publications

Noort, M., Reader, T., Shorrock, S., Kirwan, B. (Revise and Resubmit). Safety culture against international group norms (SIGN): A methodology for benchmarking safety culture in international settings.

Leaver, M., & Reader, T. (In press). Non-technical skills for managing risk and performance in financial trading. Journal of Risk Research. [IF 1.2]

Reader, T., Noort, M., Kirwan, B., Shorrock, S. (In press). Safety san frontières: An international safety culture model. Risk Analysis. [IF 2.0]

Reader, T., Gillespie, A., & Roberts, J. (2014) Patient complaints in healthcare systems: A systematic review and coding taxonomy. BMJ: Quality and Safety, 23, 678-689. [IF 3.2; 6500 downloads]

Reader, T., & O'Connor, P. (2014). The Deepwater Horizon explosion: Non-technical skills, safety culture, and system complexity. Journal of Risk Research, 17, 405-424. [IF 3.3; 4 citations]

Reader, T., Flin, R., Mearns, K., & Cuthbertson, B. (2011). Team situation awareness and the anticipation of patient progress during ICU rounds. BMJ Quality and Safety, 20, 1035-1042. [IF 3.3; 25 citations] 

Reader, T., Flin, R., Mearns, K., & Cuthbertson, B. (2009). Developing a team performance framework for the Intensive Care Unit. Critical Care Medicine, 35, 1789-1793. [IF 6.3; 152 citations] 

Mearns, K. & Reader, T. (2008). Organisational support and safety outcomes in the Oil and Gas industry: An un-investigated relationship? Safety Science, 46, 388-397. [IF 1.7; 55 citations]

Reader, T., Flin, R., Mearns, K., & Cuthbertson, B. (2007). Interdisciplinary communication in the Intensive Care Unit. British Journal of Anaesthesia, 98, 347-352. [IF 4.3; 163 citations]


Dr Tom Reader

"My work utilises organisational and social psychology theory to improve safety management in complex and risky organisations"

Publications page|