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Decision-Making in the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster

Using the dichotomous typologies only, what types of decisions were the five critical decisions?

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The first decision was about having a “safety fence” to prevent ground invasion. Such a decision was based on an earlier event in 1985 where 39 Italian (Juventus) fans died when they were trying to escape from the English (Liverpool) fans and the wall they were climbing to escape collapsed in the European Cup Final. This type of decision can be classified as structured, programmed, and strategic thus falls under category 1. This decision is considered structured because the purpose of the safety fence was clear. It served as a barrier to separate opposing fans when there were heated arguments between the two clubs. Such a decision is also programmed because, during the previous year, a game between the two teams was held at the same stadium. Since the event during the previous year went on smoothly thus the organizers decided to repeat their efforts in the 1989 event (How the Hillsborough disaster happened 2009).

The decision to have a safety fence was strategic since it would prevent two opposing groups of fans from having physical brawls. The safety fence served its purpose thus such a decision is classified under category 1 where it was based on routine. The second decision was the unscheduled roadwork on the main motorway from Liverpool to Sheffield on the day of the match. It is unstructured, non-programmed, and operational thus belonging to category 2 (Down the tunnel to total disaster 1989). It was ambiguous why of all days roadwork was needed to be done on the day of the game. Such a decision is non-programmed because it was impulsive. The necessity of the work may have been due to unforeseen circumstances that needed to be handled immediately. The second decision is operational since it was done unexpectedly without proper planning. The road engineers could have strategically arranged another day for such work in order not to cause traffic but instead, the roadwork was done on the day of the game. The second decision is classified under category 2 because such was unexpected. It was neither based on routine nor was it recurring. The decision of placing Liverpool fans in the “Leeping Lane” end of the stadium despite Liverpool having greater support than Nottingham Forest was due to authorities fearing fights between fans if ever Liverpool fans cross outside the grounds (How the Hillsborough disaster happened 2009).

The third decision is considered structured, programmed, and strategic thus falling under category 1. It is structured because the reason for such an arrangement was clear among authorities. The strategic placement of Liverpool fans in the “Leeping Lane” end of the stadium was due to the fear of fighting between fans if the Liverpool fans cross outside the ground (Down the tunnel to total disaster 1989). Such a decision is programmed because the same arrangement was made in the previous year thus such a decision is repetitive, recurring, and was based on routine. It is strategic because the authorities have considered situational outcomes and have decided the best seat arrangements for the crowds. Such a decision falls under category 1 because the decision was based on the previous year. It is a routine because it is recurring and certain. The fourth decision is the opening of the main gates by the police to let fans into the ground. This decision is considered unstructured, non-programmed, and operational and falls under category 2. It is unclear why the police opened the main gates and let all fans come in. They have failed to clearly inspect the tickets of spectators thus an additional 2,000 people made the grounds overcrowded (Down the tunnel to total disaster 1989).

Such a decision is non-programmed because the actions of the policemen were the results of the growing crowd outside the stadium. It is operational because there was no strategic plan provided by the organizers on how to handle such an event. This decision falls under category 2 because such a decision was not based on routine nor was it recurring. It was uncertain how authorities made such a decision. The last decision was the actions of the policemen in pushing the crowd back into the enclosure which contributed to the deaths of some fans. Such a decision is unstructured, non-programmed, and operational and falls under category 2. It is unstructured because it was unclear why the policemen would push the crowd back when chaos was already present inside the stadium. The decision was non-programmed because their actions were products of their reactions. There were no instructions on what they were going to do when such a situation occurred. It was operational because no structured plan was provided to the policemen thus their decisions were based on their own instincts. Such a decision falls under category 2 because it was not made base on routine. The decision was uncertain.

Were they treated as such by the decision-maker?

The decision-makers, in this case, were the event organizers, road engineers, and policemen handling the crowd. The decisions of the organizers were structured, programmed, and strategic thus falling under category 1 while the decisions of the road engineers and policemen were considered unstructured, non-programmed, and operational and fall under category 2. The entire incident could have been prevented if a more detailed plan of improvement was provided by the event organizers. They should have strategized the seat arrangements of fans according to the number of spectators each team was expecting. During the previous year, a huge number of Liverpool fans were present in the game against Nottingham Forest; the authorities could have provided more seats to the said team’s fans. They could have disciplined and informed policemen to inspect tickets and strictly imposed a “No Ticket No Entry” policy.

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Reference List

Down the tunnel to total disaster 1989, Web.

How the Hillsborough disaster happened 2009, Web.

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StudyCorgi. (2021, February 3). Decision-Making in the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster. Retrieved from https://studycorgi.com/decision-making-in-the-1989-hillsborough-disaster/

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StudyCorgi. (2021, February 3). Decision-Making in the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster. https://studycorgi.com/decision-making-in-the-1989-hillsborough-disaster/

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StudyCorgi. (2021) 'Decision-Making in the 1989 Hillsborough Disaster'. 3 February.

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