Medicine Studies

, Volume 2, Issue 4, pp 265–278

Promoting a Safety Culture in Health Care. Presenting a Relational-Interpretive Perspective


DOI: 10.1007/s12376-011-0062-8

Cite this article as:
Gauthereau, V. & Mauléon, C. Medicine Studies (2011) 2: 265. doi:10.1007/s12376-011-0062-8


This paper analyses various approaches to the concept of a ‘safety culture’ in terms of their epistemological assumptions regarding the nature of learning. As a result of this analysis, the study proposes a relational-interpretive framework for the promotion of safety in health care, which is based on relational theories and the philosophy of conceptual pragmatism as this can be used to integrate the various strands of current safety research. In particular, the approach based on a relational-interpretive perspective can bridge the apparent dualist gap that exists between the rational objectivist perspective and the relativist perspective on the role of learning in developing a safety culture. According to the relational-interpretive perspective of safety management that is proposed here, organizational members need to give continuous attention to the accepted organizational norms and values, which shape the safety culture. A case study from a health care safety project in Sweden is utilized to illustrate the ideas advanced in this paper.


Safety culture Health care Learning Objectivism Relativism Pragmatism Relational theory Relational-interpretive perspective Deviant reporting systems Error reporting systems Incident reporting systems Case study 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Human and Organisation PerformanceArevaParisFrance
  2. 2.Department of Business Administration and Gothenburg Research Institute Gothenburg University, School of Business Economics and LawGothenburgSweden

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