HCBE Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)


H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship


Regina A. Greenwood

Committee Member

Ronald J Chenail

Committee Member

Terrell G Manyak


A positive safety culture has been shown to contribute to a firm's ability to avoid or reduce the occurrence of occupational accidents and injuries. In American workplaces alone 3,582 people died and 5.1 million people were disabled in 2009 and the cost to corporate America was $169 billion and an additional productivity loss of 95 million work days. The economic cost to each American household is about $1,200. Firms that establish and maintain a positive safety culture are able to achieve a competitive advantage in the market.

While much research exists showing the relationship between safety culture and accident reduction, less guidance is found on how companies might achieve such improvement through cultural change. Attempts have been made to determine the factor structure of safety culture, that is, the identification of the antecedents of a positive safety culture. However, to date no general consensus has emerged among researchers about the exact elements of the factor structure. Research methodologies have been blamed for biasing the research results and thereby causing the lack of consensus. This dissertation uses a different methodology, the Delphi method combined with Hofstede's well-known onion model of organizational culture, to determine those organizational practices that lead to a positive safety culture.

Delphi is a mixed methodology that begins with an exploratory approach followed by the more traditional quantitative method. The exploratory front-end was deemed appropriate given that prior traditional survey instruments most likely introduced researcher bias through a myopic view of safety culture. Delphi also differs by utilizing purposeful sampling versus random sampling which provides a high level of expertise to inform the research.

After four rounds of inquiry with a panel of experts, a consensus was reached on 18 organizational practices that lead to a positive safety culture. This research adds to the understanding of safety culture, provides useful information for both practitioners and academic researchers, and offers launch points for extensions of the research.

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