How airlines learn from airline accidents: An empirical study of how attributed errors and performance feedback affect learning from failure

Euisin Kim, Mooweon Rhee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)


This research examined organizational learning factors by asking whether airlines learn more from internally or externally attributed causes of airline accidents. Our dependent variable, organizational learning, was defined as a decrease in subsequent airline accident rates. To test the moderating effect of performance feedback, we predicted that performance relative to aspiration level would negatively moderate the relationship between the attribution of airline accidents and the subsequent accident rate. Overall, the findings of this research revealed that the greater the proportion of internally attributed causes is, the more likely it is that an airline will learn from its accidents and will experience a lower subsequent accident rate. In addition, our findings regarding the moderating effect of performance feedback showed that airlines performing below their aspiration levels are more likely to learn from internally attributed causes of accidents and will therefore experience a lower subsequent accident rate. We conducted this investigation by collecting data from the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) database for all of the accidents (accidents and incidents) experienced by U.S. commercial airlines during the 1990–2014 period. Our research findings provide implications for future studies that discuss the factors affecting organizational learning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-143
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Air Transport Management
Publication statusPublished - 2017 Jan 1


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Transportation
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Law

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