Nottingham University Business School
  • Print

Professor Carl Macrae

BSc (Hons) (University of Manchester), PhD (University of East Anglia)
Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Psychology

Department: Organisational Behaviour and Human Resource Management
Centres/Institutes: CHILL, WEORG
Tel: +44 (0) 115 9515254
Location: C11 (North Building, Jubilee Campus)

Carl Macrae is an applied psychologist who studies how people and organisations learn, innovate and improve in societally critical industries that manage significant risks and face considerable regulatory scrutiny. His research explores the management, governance and regulation of risk and resilience, primarily in aviation and healthcare, with a particular interest in the challenges surrounding the safety of new autonomous and intelligent technologies.

Carl's research uses a range of ethnographic and qualitative methods to understand the sociotechnical sources of risk, safety, reliability and resilience in critical systems; the practical work of interpreting and learning from disruptive events, simulations and demonstrator projects; and the social, cultural and organisational processes involved in managing and regulating risk and enacting learning and improvement. His book, "Close Calls", explored the practical work involved in analysing and learning from safety events in the aviation industry, and was shortlisted for the British Psychological Society book awards 2017.

Carl regularly advises organisations, regulators and policymakers on challenging risk and safety issues. He is currently the National Professional Advisor for Patient Safety at England's health and care regulator, the Care Quality Commission (CQC). Previously, his work led to a Parliamentary inquiry and subsequent establishment of the first national, learning-focused safety investigation body for healthcare in England, the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch (HSIB), modelled on similar bodies in the aviation and transport industries. He has acted as Specialist Advisor and been called as an expert witness to Parliamentary Select Committee inquiries on these issues and associated legislation.

Carl is Professor of Organisational Behaviour and Psychology at Nottingham University Business School. He is also Visiting Professor of Human Factors and Digital Safety at Halmstad University, Sweden; Professor II in the SHARE Centre for Resilience in Healthcare at University of Stavanger, Norway; a Fellow of the British Psychological Society; and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences.

Previously he has been a Health Foundation Improvement Science Fellow, Special Advisor at the NHS National Patient Safety Agency, Associate Director of Research and Evaluation at the Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch and an ESRC Postdoctoral Fellow. He has held research appointments at Imperial College London, London School of Economics, University of Oxford and University of Leicester. He has also been an academic visitor at Stanford University, University of California San Francisco, Australian National University and Cranfield University.


The following lists my publications from 2014 to the present day.

Enter a search term into the filter box to only display rows containing that search term. You can also sort columns by clicking on the appropriate header.

Clear Filter Rows per Page:

My research explores how people and organisations learn, innovate and improve in societally critical industries that manage significant risks and are subject to considerable regulatory scrutiny such as transport, healthcare and energy. I specifically aim to explain the practical work that is involved in the accomplishment of resilience, safety and sustainability where those outcomes are particularly challenging to achieve.

A core aim of my research is to understand how organisational activities and strategies can be disrupted by new innovations or unexpected events, and the learning and sensemaking activities that unfold around those disruptions and surprises. My research is often conducted in close collaboration with organisations and regulators to enable both empirical depth and practical relevance, and has been supported by major funders including ESRC, Wellcome, NIHR and The Health Foundation.

My overarching research programme is oriented to both developing new theory and directly informing practice and policy, and addresses five interrelated arenas:

- Integrating human and artificial intelligence
- Regulatory learning for technological change
- Organisational resilience and cultures of reliability
- Learning through disruption and investigation
- Simulation, demonstrators and systems improvement

I currently jointly lead, with Prof Jane O'Hara at University of Cambridge, the National Institute for Health and Care Research (NIHR) "Response Study". This is a major 3 year (2022-2025) national evaluation of the implementation of NHS England's new policy on analysing, investigating and learning from safety incidents within NHS organisations.

I am also co-theme lead of the "Safer Systems, Cultures and Practices" research theme within the 5 year (2023-2025) NIHR Yorkshire and Humber Patient Safety Research Collaboration (PSRC), with Prof Jane O'Hara. This is one of four interconnected themes within this large research programme working with partners locally, nationally and internationally to develop more systematic approaches to the management and improvement of safety.

I lead the "Autonomous Incidents" project, supported by the Lloyds Register Foundation and University of York's Assuring Autonomy International Programme (AAIP), which is exploring how to effectively identify, investigate and learn from safety incidents associated with intelligent and autonomous systems.

Carl is currently collaborating on the following projects:

  • Yorkshire and Humber Patient Safety Research Collaborative

Carl is currently supervising the following Research Students:

Nguyen Anh Thoai Le


Nottingham University Business School

Jubilee Campus

Contact us