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Promoting safety in organizations: The role of leadership and managerial practices
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology. (Division of Work and Organizational Psychology)ORCID iD: 0000-0002-4820-8914
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Workplace accidents and injuries are a growing problem for organizations in Sweden as well as in many other countries. As a consequence, improving workplace safety has become an area of increasing concern for employers and politicians as well as researchers. The aim of this thesis was to contribute to an increased understanding of how leadership and management practices can influence safety in organizations. In Study I, three leadership styles were investigated to determine their relative importance for different safety outcomes. A leadership style specifically emphasizing safety was found to contribute the most to employee safety behaviors; transformational leadership was found to be positive for safety behaviors only when it also involved a safety focus; and a transactional leadership style (management-by-exception active) was shown to be slightly negatively related to workplace safety. Study II examined the role of leader communication approaches for patient safety and the mechanisms involved in this relationship. Support was found for a model showing that one-way communication of safety values and leader feedback communication were both related to increased patient safety through the mediation of different employee safety behaviors (safety compliance and organizational citizen behaviors). Study III explored whether and in what ways the use of staff bonus systems may compromise safety in high-risk organizations. The three investigated systems were all found to provide limited incentives for any behavioral change. However, the results indicate that design characteristics such as clearly defined and communicated bonus goals, which are perceived as closely linked to performance and which aim at improved safety, are imperative for the influence that bonus programs have on safety. Group-directed goals also appeared to be more advantageous than corporate- or individual-level goals. The thesis highlights the importance of actively emphasizing and communicating safety-related issues, both through leadership and in managerial practices, for the achievement of enhanced workplace safety.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Psychology, Stockholm University , 2015. , 97 p.
Keyword [en]
Transformational leadership, transactional leadership, safety-specific leadership, workplace safety, injuries, accidents, safety compliance, safety initiative, organizational citizenship behavior, communication, incident reporting, patient safety, incentive program
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-116691ISBN: 978-91-7649-170-6 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-116691DiVA: diva2:807328
Public defence
2015-06-05, David Magnussonsalen (U31), Frescati Hagväg 8, Stockholm, 10:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Funder
Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, SSM2010-4464
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 1: Manuscript.

Available from: 2015-05-14 Created: 2015-04-23 Last updated: 2015-06-24Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Leading for safety: A question of leadership focus
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Leading for safety: A question of leadership focus
Show others...
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

There is considerable evidence that leadership influence workplace safety, but less is known about the relative importance of different leadership styles. The present study investigated the relative roles of transformational, transactional (MBEA), and safety-specific leadership styles for different safety outcomes. Data was collected through a survey responded by 269 employees at a process industry. The results showed that a safety-specific leadership style contributed the most to enhanced safety. Transformational leadership was not found to contribute to any safety outcome over and above that of a safety-specific leadership, while a monitoring and correcting transactional leadership style was associated with an increased number of injuries. Results also indicated that a separation of injuries into different degrees of severity may be beneficial for the detection of significant relationships between organizational factors and injury outcomes.

Keyword
Workplace safety, transformational, transactional, safety-specific leadership, compliance, safety initiative, injuries
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-116685 (URN)
Funder
Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, SSM2010-4464
Available from: 2015-04-23 Created: 2015-04-23 Last updated: 2015-04-30
2. Leader communication approaches and patient safety: an integrated model
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Leader communication approaches and patient safety: an integrated model
2015 (English)In: Journal of Safety Research, ISSN 0022-4375, E-ISSN 1879-1247, Vol. 53, 53-62 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [sv]

Problem: Leader communication is known to influence a number of employee behaviors. When it comes to the relationship between leader communication and safety, the evidence is more scarce and ambiguous. The aim of the present study is to investigate whether and in what way leader communication relates to safety outcomes. The study examines two leader communication approaches: leader safety priority communication and feedback to subordinates. These approaches were assumed to affect safety outcomes via different employee behaviors. Method: Questionnaire data, collected from 221 employees at two hospital wards, were analyzed using structural equation modeling. Results: The two examined communication approaches were both positively related to safety outcomes, although leader safety priority communication was mediated by employee compliance and feedback communication by organizational citizenship behaviors. Conclusion: The findings suggest that leader communication plays a vital role in improving organizational and patient safety and that different communication approaches seem to positively affect different but equally essential employee safety behaviors. Practical applications: The results highlights the necessity for leaders to engage in one-way communication of safety values as well as in more relational feedback communication with their subordinates in order to enhance patient safety.

Keyword
Workplace safety, safety compliance, safety participation, reporting
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-116684 (URN)10.1016/j.jsr.2015.03.008 (DOI)000354584700008 ()
Funder
Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, SSM2010-4464
Available from: 2015-04-23 Created: 2015-04-23 Last updated: 2017-12-04Bibliographically approved
3. Effects of staff bonus systems on safety behaviors
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Effects of staff bonus systems on safety behaviors
2014 (English)In: Human Resource Management Review, ISSN 1053-4822, E-ISSN 1873-7889, Vol. 24, no 1, 17-30 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Bonus systems are a common means in trying to motivate employees to perform well. However, there is still disagreement regarding the effects of bonus systems. Some theories even suggest that such systems could cause an increase in risk-behavior. This makes further research regarding bonus systems warranted, especially when applied in high-risk organizations. This study aims to explore potential effects on safety-related behavior associated with bonus systems currently used at Swedish nuclear power plants. Fifteen semi-structured interviews with employees were performed based on an eclectically composed framework from motivational and organizational theories. Results do not indicate any negative effects on safety-related behaviors, but rather that safety behaviors may be promoted insofar as bonus rewards are linked to performance goals concerning safety. Differences in bonus system design appeared to affect behavioral outcomes. The comparative and qualitative approach of this study contributes valuable information by highlighting the types of factors that may serve to stimulate greater incentive for employees to engage in safe behavior.

Keyword
bonus, pay system, incentive, motivation, nuclear power plant, safety
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-98798 (URN)10.1016/j.hrmr.2013.08.012 (DOI)000329381400003 ()
Available from: 2014-01-09 Created: 2014-01-09 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved

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