Safety Culture, Moral Disengagement, and Accident Underreporting
Moral disengagement (MD) is the process by which individuals mitigate the consequences of their own violations of moral standards. Although MD is understood to be co-determined by culture norms, no study has yet explored the extent to which MD applied to safety at work (JS-MD) fosters safety violations (e.g., accident underreporting), nor the role of organizational culture as a predictor of JS-MD. The current study seeks to address this gap in the literature by examining individual- (MD) and organizational-level (culture) factors that explain why employees fail to report workplace accidents. We tested a latent variable structural model positing organizational culture typologies (autocratic, bureaucratic, clan-patronage, technocratic, and cooperative) as predictors of JS-MD, which in turn is expected to mediate the relationship with accident underreporting. Using data from 1033 employees in 28 Italian organizations, findings suggest that bureaucratic safety culture was related to lower levels of JS-MD, whereas technocratic safety culture was related to greater JS-MD. In turn, JS-MD positively predicted employee accident underreporting and fully mediated the relationship between culture and underreporting. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed in light of the increasing focus on underreporting as well as the adverse individual and organizational consequences of failing to report workplace accidents.
KeywordsAccident underreporting Moral disengagement Organizational safety culture
- Bandura, A. (1986). Social foundations of thought and action: A social cognitive theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.Google Scholar
- Bandura, A. (1990). Mechanisms of moral disengagement. In W. Reich (Ed.), Origins of terrorism: Psychologies, ideologies, theologies, states of mind (pp. 161–191). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
- Barbaranelli, C., & Perna, A. (2004). Meccanismi di disimpegno morale nell’applicazione delle normative sulla sicurezza: contributo empirico [Mechanisms of Moral Disengagement in the application of safety norms in the workplace]. Risorsa Uomo, 10, 393–415.Google Scholar
- Enriquez, E. (1970). I tipi di strutture decisionali. In AA. VV., Les problemes de gestion des enterprises. Paris: Dunod.Google Scholar
- Eurispes. (2010). Rapporto Italia 2010 [Italy Report 2010]. Retrieved from: http://eurispes.eu/content/rapporto-italia-2010.
- European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. (2013). Healthy Workplaces. Working together for risk prevention. European Agency for Safety and Health at work. Retrieved from: https://osha.europa.eu/en/publications/reports/european-good-practice-awards-2012-2013.
- European Agency for Safety and Health at Work. (2014). Management Leadership. Retrieved from: https://osha.europa.eu/en/topics/management-leadership/index_html.
- Fida, R., Paciello, M., Tramontano, C., Fontaine, R. G., Barbaranelli, C., & Farnese, M. L. (2014). An integrative approach to understanding counterproductive work behavior: The roles of stressors, negative emotions, and moral disengagement. Journal of Business Ethics,. doi:10.1007/s10551-014-2209-5.Google Scholar
- Heck, R. H., & Thomas, S. L. (2000). An introduction to multilevel modeling techniques (p. 209). Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum & Associates.Google Scholar
- Hox, J. (2002). Multilevel analysis: Techniques and applications. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
- Jones, T. M. (1991). Ethical decision- making by individuals in organizations: An issue contingent model. Academy of Management Review, 16, 366–395.Google Scholar
- Mayer, D. M., Kuenzi, M., & Greenbaum, R. L. (2009). Making ethical climate a mainstream management topic: A review, critique, and prescription for the empirical research on ethical climate. In D. D. Cremer (Ed.), Psychological perspectives on ethical behavior and decision making (pp. 181–213). Greenwich, CT: Information Age.Google Scholar
- Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (1998–2012). Mplus user’s guide (7th ed.). Los Angeles: Muthén & Muthén.Google Scholar
- National Institute for Insurance against Accidents at Work [Istituto Nazionale per l’Assicurazione contro gli Infortuni sul Lavoro - INAIL]. (2011). Rapporto Annuale 2010 [Annual Report 2010]. Retrieved from: http://www.inail.it/.
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration. (1993). Process Safety Management Guidelines for Compliance. Retrieved from: https://www.osha.gov/Publications/osha3133.html.
- Payne, R. (2000). Climate and culture: How close can they get? In N. M. Ashkanasy, C. P. M. Wilderom, & M. P. Peterson (Eds.), Handbook of organizational culture and climate. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.Google Scholar
- Petitta L., Barbaranelli C., & Probst T. (2012). Cross-cultural validation of the Intensity & Strength Organizational Culture Questionnaire. In L. Petitta (Chair), Understanding the culture and climate underpinnings of organizational effectiveness. Paper presented at the 27th Conference SIOP (Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology), San Diego, CA, 26–28 April.Google Scholar
- Petitta, L., Barbaranelli, C., & Probst, T. (2014). Intensity and strength organizational culture questionnaire. Manual. Firenze: Hogrefe Italia.Google Scholar
- Probst, T. M. (2013). Organizational safety climate, supervisor safety leadership, and accident under-reporting. In A. Krauss (Chair), Digging deeper into the safety leadership—Safety outcome relationship. Paper presented to the annual conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, Houston, TX.Google Scholar
- Probst, T. M., & Graso, M. (2011). Reporting and investigating accidents: Recognizing the tip of the iceberg. In S. Clarke, C. Cooper, & R. Burke (Eds.), Occupational health and safety: Psychological and behavioral challenges. Gower: Surrey, United Kingdom.Google Scholar
- Quinlan, M., & Mayhew, C. (1999). Precarious employment and workers’ compensation. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 22(5), 491–520.Google Scholar
- Rest, J. R. (1986). Moral development: Advances in research and theory. New York: Praeger Publishers.Google Scholar
- Schein, E. H. (1985). Organizational culture and leadership: A dynamic view. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.Google Scholar
- Shannon, H. S., & Lowe, G. S. (2002). How many injured workers do not file claims for workers’ compensation benefits? American Journal of Industrial Medicine, 42(6), 467–473.Google Scholar
- Smecko, T., & Hayes, B. (1999). Measuring compliance with safety behaviors at work. Paper presented at the 14th Annual Conference of the Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology, April 30–May 2, Atlanta, USA.Google Scholar
- Tabachnick, B. G., & Fidell, L. S. (2007). Using multivariate statistics. New York: HarperCollins.Google Scholar
- Trevino, L. K. (1986). Ethical decision making in organizations: A person-situation interactionist model. Academy of Management Review, 11(3), 601–617.Google Scholar