What does safety commitment mean to leaders? A multi-method investigation
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© 2018 Introduction: Perceived management safety commitment as an aspect of safety climate or culture is a key influence on safety outcomes in organizations. What is unclear is how perceptions of management commitment are created by leaders. Method: To address this gap in the literature, we position safety commitment as a leadership construct viewed from the perspectives of the leaders who experience and demonstrate it. In this paper, an established multidimensional commitment framework is applied to leaders' safety commitment (consisting of affective, normative, and calculative commitment). Via an exploratory sequential mixed methods design combining interviews (n = 40) and surveys (n = 89), we investigate the applicability of this theoretical conceptualization to safety commitment. Results: The results indicate the multiple dimensions captured leaders' safety commitment well, safety commitment can be demonstrated via a range of behaviors, and the dimensions' association with behavioral demonstrations aligned with those of other types of commitment reported in the literature. Only affective safety commitment was consistently associated with demonstrations of safety commitment. The link between high levels of affective and normative safety commitment and demonstrations was more pronounced when participants perceived their company's safety climate more positively. Conclusions: Adopting a focus on leaders' experience of safety commitment offers opportunities for new research into the way in which safety commitment perceptions are shaped by leaders. Practical application: The findings can support leaders' reflection about their personal mindset around safety and support them in fostering strong safety climates and cultures. It further encourages organizations in creating work environments that in particular foster affective and normative safety commitments in leaders.
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