Psychological safety or trust in competence: The Costa Concordia case

In March 2017, I travelled to Sorrento to meet with Francesco Schettino, the captain of the passenger ship Costa Concordia that capsized off the coast of Italy. I was plainly curious to understand his perspective about the accident. During our four days of interaction, I discovered that Francesco had a strong opinion about why people don’t speak up even when there is an imminent danger. His theory was that they simply cannot comprehend the situation. In other words, how do you speak up if you do not know what to say?

I was left disturbed by the idea. It appeared naïve and oversimplistic. How could it be possible? Dominant theories and prominent experts have not focused on this, so who was this man to make such a bold statement? What did he know about human factors and, above all, why should I even trust someone who has such a low credibility in public face?

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