Skip to main content

Error orientation at work: Dimensionality and relationships with errors and organizational cultural factors

Abstract

Making errors represents a stressful event, and the way errors are dealt with are significantly influenced by individuals’ error orientation. Drawing on the stress literature, scholars have identified several dimensions underpinning error orientation construct. Nevertheless, empirical studies have overlooked the construct complexity and do not provide clear theoretical anchors for its operationalization. This study aims to contribute to the error orientation literature by proposing and empirically testing a theoretical framework that integrates stress and attitude theories, on a sample of 443 employees. Specifically, we examined the error orientation facets’ relationships with both two Hofstede’s cultural factors (i.e., power distance and uncertainty avoidance) and work errors (i.e., slips/lapses and mistakes types). Findings from the test of alternative models and from a structural equation model showed the uniqueness of each facet, also in relation to additional study variables, supporting the relevance of adopting this twofold theoretical framework in order to better understand the nature of each facet.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1
Fig. 2

References

  1. Ajzen, I. (1989). Attitude structure and behavior. Attitude structure and function, 241–274.

  2. Ajzen, I., & Fishbein, M. (1980). Understanding attitudes and predicting social behavior. Upper Saddle River: Prentice-Hall.

    Google Scholar 

  3. Amini, A., & Mortazavi, S. (2012). Effectiveness of psychological capital on mistake management culture as a resource for learning in organisation. International Journal of Human Sciences, 9(2), 339–353.

    Google Scholar 

  4. Arenas, A., Tabernero, C., & Briones, E. (2006). Effects of goal orientation, error orientation and self–efficacy on performance in an uncertain situation. Social Behavior and Personality, 34(5), 569–586. https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2006.34.5.569.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  5. Baglin, J., & Da Costa, C. (2012). An experimental study evaluating error management training for learning to operate a statistical package in an introductory statistics course: Is less guidance more? International Journal of Innovation in Science and Mathematics Education, 20(3), 48–67.

    Google Scholar 

  6. Baker, D. S., & Carson, K. D. (2011). The two faces of uncertainty avoidance: Attachment and adaptation. Journal of Behavioral & Applied Management, 12(2), 128–141.

    Google Scholar 

  7. Bandura, A. (2018). Toward a psychology of human agency: Pathways and reflections. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 13(2), 130–136.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  8. Bauer, J., & Mulder, R. H. (2013). Engagement in learning after errors at work: Enabling conditions and types of engagement. Journal of Education and Work, 26(1), 99–119. https://doi.org/10.1080/13639080.2011.573776.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  9. Białas, S. (2009). Power distance as a determinant of relations between managers and employees in the enterprises with foreign capital. Journal of Intercultural Management, 1(2), 105–115.

    Google Scholar 

  10. Bollen, K. A. (1989). Structural equations with latent variables. New York: Wiley.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  11. Brown, S. P., Westbrook, R. A., & Challagalla, G. (2005). Good cope, bad cope: Adaptive and maladaptive coping strategies following a critical negative work event. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90(4), 792–798.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  12. Carter, M., & Beier, M. (2010). The effectiveness of error management training with working-aged adults. Personnel Psychology, 63, 641–675. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-6570.2010.01183.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  13. Casey, T., & Krauss, A. (2013). The role of effective error management practices in increasing miners’ safety performance. Safety Science, 60, 131–141. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssci.2013.07.001.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  14. Catino, M. (2008). A review of literature: Individual blame vs. organisational function logics in accident analysis. Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 16(1), 53–62. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-5973.2008.00533.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  15. Chang, Y., & Mark, B. (2011). Moderating effects of learning climate on the impact of RN staffing on medication errors. Nursing Research, 60(1), 32–39. https://doi.org/10.1097/NNR.0b013e3181ff73cc.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  16. Chughtai, A. A., & Buckley, F. (2010). Assessing the effects of organisational identification on in-role job performance and learning behavior. The mediating role of learning goal orientation. Personnel Review, 39(2), 242–258. https://doi.org/10.1108/00483481011017444.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  17. Cigularov, C., Chen, P., & Rosecrance, J. (2010). The effects of error management climate and safety communication on safety: A multi-level study. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 42, 1498–1506. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.aap.2010.01.003.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  18. Cole, M. S., Carter, M. Z., & Zhang, Z. (2013). Leader-team congruence in power distance values and team effectiveness: The mediating role of procedural justice climate. Journal of Applied Psychology, 98, 962–973.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  19. Dahlin, K. B., Chuang, Y. T., & Roulet, T. J. (2018). Opportunity, motivation, and ability to learn from failures and errors: Review, synthesis, and ways to move forward. Academy of Management Annals, 12(1), 252–277. https://doi.org/10.5465/annals.2016.0049.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  20. Dimitrova, N. G., van Dyck, C., van Hooft, E., & Groenewegen, P. (2015). Don’t fuss, focus: The mediating effect of on-task thoughts on the relationship between error approach instructions and task performance. Applied Psychology, an International Review, 64(3), 599–624.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  21. Dorfman, P. W., & Howell, J. P. (1988). Dimensions of national culture and effective leadership patterns: Hofstede revisited. Advances in International Comparative Management, 3(1), 127–150.

    Google Scholar 

  22. Drach-Zahavy, A., & Pud, D. (2010). Learning mechanisms to limit medication administration errors. Journal of Advanced Nursing, 66(4), 794–805. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1365-2648.2010.05294.x.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  23. Edmondson, A. C., & Lei, Z. (2014). Psychological safety: The history, renaissance, and future of an interpersonal construct. The Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 1, 23–43. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-orgpsych-031413-091305.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  24. Farnese, M. L., Zaghini, F., Caruso, R., Fida, R., Romagnoli, M., & Sili, A. (2018). Managing care errors in the wards: The contribution of authentic leadership and error management culture. Leadership & Organisation Development Journal, 40(1), 17–30. https://doi.org/10.1108/LODJ-04-2018-0152.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  25. Fay, D., & Frese, M. (2000). Conservatives approach to work: Less prepared for future work demands? Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 30, 171–195. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1559-1816.2000.tb02310.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  26. Flanagan, J. C. (1954). The critical incident technique. Psychological Bulletin, 51(4), 327–358. https://doi.org/10.1037/h0061470.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  27. Fogarty, G. J. (2005). Psychological strain mediates the impact of safety climate on maintenance errors. International Journal of Applied Aviation Studies, 5(1), 53–64.

    Google Scholar 

  28. Frese, M., & Keith, N. (2015). Action errors, error management, and learning in organisations. Annual Review of Psychology, 66, 661–687. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-010814-015205.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  29. Fruhen, L. S., & Keith, N. (2014). Team cohesion and error culture in risky work environments. Safety Science, 65, 20–27. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssci.2013.12.011.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  30. Gelfand, M. J., Frese, M., & Salmon, E. (2011). Cultural influences on errors: Prevention, detection, and management. Errors in organisations, 273–315.

  31. Harteis, C., Bauer, J., & Gruber, H. (2008). The culture of learning from mistakes: How employees handle mistakes in everyday work. International Journal of Educational Research, 47, 223–231. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijer.2008.07.003.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  32. Helmreich, R. L., Wilhelm, J. A., Klinect, J. R., & Merritt, A. C. (2001). Culture, error and crew resource management. Applying resource management in organisations, 305–331.

  33. Hetzner, S., Gartmeier, M., Heid, H., & Gruber, H. (2011). Error orientation and reflection at work. Vocations and Learning, 4, 25–39. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12186-010-9047-0.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  34. Hobfoll, S. E. (2011). Conservation of resources theory: Its implication for stress, health, and resilience. The Oxford handbook of stress, health, and coping, 127–147.

  35. Hofmann, D. A., & Mark, B. (2006). An investigation of the relationships between safety climate and medication errors as well as other nurse and patient outcomes. Personnel Psychology, 59, 847–869. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1744-6570.2006.00056.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  36. Hofstede, G. (1984). Culture’s consequences: International differences in work-related values. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  37. Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s consequences: Comparing values, behaviors, institutions and organisations across nations. Thousand Oaks: Sage. https://doi.org/10.1177/031289620202700105.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  38. Hofstede, G. (2011). Dimensionalizing cultures: The Hofstede model in context. Online Readings in Psychology and Culture, 2(1), 8. https://doi.org/10.9707/2307-0919.1014.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  39. Horvath, P., & Zuckerman, M. (1993). Sensation seeking, risk appraisal, and risky behavior. Personality and Individual Differences, 14(1), 41–52. https://doi.org/10.1016/0191-8869(93)90173-Z.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  40. House, R., Hanges, P., Javidan, M., Dorfman, P., & Gupta, V. (2004). Culture, leadership and organisations. The GLOBE study of 62 societies. Thousand Oaks: Sage.

    Google Scholar 

  41. Hu, L., & Bentler, P. M. (1999). Cutoff criteria for fit indexes in covariance structure analysis: Conventional criteria versus new alternatives. Structural Equation Modeling, 6, 1–55. https://doi.org/10.1080/10705519909540118.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  42. Huish, K. A., & Poropat, P. (2008). Coping with error in the workplace. Personality down under: Perspectives from Australia, 125–132.

  43. Keith, N., & Frese, M. (2005). Self-regulation in error management training: Emotion control and metacognition as mediators of performance effects. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90(4), 677–691. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.90.4.677.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  44. King, B. S., & Beehr, T. A. (2017). Working with the stress of errors: Error management strategies as coping. International Journal of Stress Management, 24(1), 18–33.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  45. König, C., Steinmetz, H., Frese, M., Rauch, A., & Wang, Z. M. (2007). Scenario-based scales measuring cultural orientations of business owners. Journal of Evolutionary Economics, 17(2), 211–239. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00191-006-0047-z.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  46. Korsten, V. A., Stanz, K., & Blignaut, J. (2004). The development of a management error orientation questionnaire. Journal of Human Resource Management, 2, 37–44.

    Google Scholar 

  47. Ladbury, J. L., & Hinsz, V. B. (2009). Uncertainty avoidance influences choices for potential gains but not losses. Current Psychology, 28, 187–193. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-009-9056-z.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  48. LaPorte, T. R., & Consolini, P. M. (1991). Working in practice but not in theory: Theoretical challenges of “high-reliability organisations”. Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 1(1), 19–48.

    Google Scholar 

  49. Lauzier, M., & Mercier, G. (2018). The effect of error orientation, motivation to learn, and social support on training transfer intentions: A moderated mediation model. Canadian Journal of Administrative Sciences/Revue Canadienne des Sciences de l'Administration, 35(3), 419–428.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  50. Lazarus, R. S., & Folkman, S. (1984). Stress, appraisal, and coping. Berlin: Springer.

    Google Scholar 

  51. Leicher, V., & Mulder, R. (2016). Individual and contextual factors influencing engagement in learning activities after errors at work. Journal of Workplace Learning, 28(2), 66–89. https://doi.org/10.1108/JWL-03-2015-0022.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  52. Leicher, V., Mulder, R., & Bauer, J. (2013). Learning from errors at work: A replication study in elder care nursing. Vocations and Learning, 6, 207–220. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12186-012-9090-0.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  53. Liu, C., Yang, L. Q., & Nauta, M. M. (2013). Examining the mediating effect of supervisor conflict on procedural injustice-job strain relations: The function of power distance. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 18, 64–74. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0030889.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  54. Lorenzoni, N., & Lewis, B. R. (2004). Service recovery in the airline industry: A cross-cultural comparison of the attitudes and behaviours of British and Italian front-line personnel. Managing Service Quality: An International Journal, 14(1), 11–25.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  55. Mark, B. A., Hughes, L. C., Belyea, M., Chang, Y., Hofmann, D., Jones, C. A., & Bacon, C. (2007). Does safety climate moderate the influence of staffing adequacy and work conditions on nurse injuries? Journal of Safety Research, 38, 431–446. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jsr.2007.04.004.

    PubMed  PubMed Central  Article  Google Scholar 

  56. Mohamed, S., Ali, T. H., & Tam, W. (2009). National culture and safe work behavior of construction workers in Pakistan. Safety Science, 47(1), 29–35. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssci.2008.01.003.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  57. Pekrun, R., Frenzel, A. C., Goetz, T., & Perry, R. P. (2007). The control-value theory of achievement emotions: An integrative approach to emotions in education. In Emotion in education (pp. 13–36). Cambridge: Academic Press.

    Chapter  Google Scholar 

  58. Piderit, S. K. (2000). Rethinking resistance and recognizing ambivalence: A multidimensional view of attitudes toward an organisational change. Academy of Management Review, 4, 783–794. https://doi.org/10.5465/amr.2000.3707722.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  59. Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., & Podsakoff, N. P. (2012). Sources of method bias in social science research and recommendations on how to control it. Annual Review of Psychology, 65, 539–569. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-120710-100452.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  60. Putz, D., Schilling, J., Kluge, A., & Stangenberg, C. (2013). Measuring organisational learning from errors: Development and validation of an integrated model and questionnaire. Management Learning, 44(5), 511–536. https://doi.org/10.1177/1350507612444391.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  61. Rausch, A., Seifried, J., & Harteis, C. (2017). Emotions, coping and learning in error situations in the workplace. Journal of Workplace Learning, 29(5), 374–393. https://doi.org/10.1108/JWL-01-2017-0004.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  62. Reason, J. (1990). Human error. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  63. Rosenberg, M. J., & Hovland, C. I. (1960). Cognitive, affective, and behavioral components of attitude. Attitude organisation and change, 1–14.

  64. Rybowiak, V., Garst, H., Frese, M., & Batinic, B. (1999). Error orientation questionnaire (EOQ): Reliability, validity, and different language equivalence. Journal of Organisational Behavior, 20, 527–547. https://doi.org/10.1002/(SICI)1099-1379(199907)20:4<527::AID-JOB886>3.0.CO;2-G.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  65. Schell, K. L. (2012). The error-oriented motivation scale: An examination of structural and convergent validity. Personality and Individual Differences, 52(3), 352–356. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2011.10.035.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  66. Schell, K. L., & Conte, J. M. (2008). Associations among polychronicity, goal orientation, and error orientation. Personality and Individual Differences, 44(1), 288–298. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.paid.2007.08.009.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  67. Schneider, S. C., & DeMeyer, A. (1991). Interpreting and responding to strategic issues: The impact of national culture. Strategic Management Journal, 12(4), 307–320. https://doi.org/10.1002/smj.4250120406.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  68. Shimizu, K., & Hitt, M. A. (2011). Errors at the top of the hierarchy. Errors in Organisations, 199–224.

  69. Steele-Johnson, D., & Kalinoski, Z. (2014). Error framing effects on performance: Cognitive, motivational, and affective pathways. Journal of Psychology, 148(1), 93–111. https://doi.org/10.1080/00223980.2012.748581.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  70. Steiger, J. H. (2007). Understanding the limitations of global fit assessment in structural equation modeling. Personality and Individual Differences, 42(5), 893–898.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  71. Stern, Z., Katz-Navon, T., & Naveh, E. (2008). The influence of situational learning orientation, autonomy, and voice on error making: The case of resident physicians. Management Science, 54(9), 1553–1564. https://doi.org/10.1287/mnsc.1080.0862.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  72. Taras, V., Kirkman, B. L., & Steel, P. (2010). Examining the impact of culture's consequences: A three-decade, multilevel, meta-analytic review of Hofstede's cultural value dimensions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 95(3), 405–439. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0018938.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  73. Tjosvold, D., & Yu, Z. (2007). Group risk taking. The constructive role of controversy in China. Group and Organisation Management, 32, 653–674. https://doi.org/10.1177/1059601106287110.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  74. Tjosvold, D., Yu, Z., & Hui, C. (2004). Team learning from mistakes: The contribution of cooperative goals and problem-solving. Journal of Management Studies, 41(7), 1223–1245. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6486.2004.00473.x.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  75. Tulis, M. (2013). Error management behavior in classrooms: Teachers’ responses to student mistakes. Teaching and Teacher Education, 33, 56–68. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tate.2013.02.003.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  76. Van Dyck, C., Frese, M., Baer, M., & Sonnentag, S. (2005). Organisational error management culture and its impact on performance: A two-study replication. Journal of Applied Psychology, 90, 1228–1240. https://doi.org/10.1037/0021-9010.90.6.1228.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  77. Webb, T. L., Miles, E., & Sheeran, P. (2012). Dealing with feeling: A meta-analysis of the effectiveness of strategies derived from the process model of emotion regulation. Psychological Bulletin, 138(4), 775–808. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0027600.

    PubMed  Article  Google Scholar 

  78. Winters, D., & Latham, G. P. (1996). The effect of learning versus outcome goals on a simple versus a complex task. Group & Organization Management, 21(2), 236–250.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  79. Yan, Q., Bligh, M., & Kohles, J. (2014). Absence makes the errors go longer. How leaders inhibit learning from errors. Zeitschriftfür Psychologie, 222(4), 233–245. https://doi.org/10.1027/2151-2604/a000190.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  80. Zhao, B., & Olivera, F. (2006). Error reporting in organisations. Academy of Management Review, 31(4), 1012–1030. https://doi.org/10.5465/amr.2006.22528167.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  81. Zotzmann, Y., van der Linden, D., & Wyrwa, K. (2019). The relation between country differences, cultural values, personality dimensions, and error orientation: An approach across three continents-Asia, Europe, and North America. Safety Science, 120, 185–193. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ssci.2019.06.013.

    Article  Google Scholar 

Download references

Acknowledgements

We thank the anonymous reviewers for their careful reading of our manuscript and their many insightful comments and suggestions.

Author information

Affiliations

Authors

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Maria Luisa Farnese.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

Maria Luisa Farnese, Roberta Fida and Michele Picoco declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed consent

This study was carried out in accordance with the recommendations of the Ethic Committee of the Department of Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome. The protocol was approved by the Ethic Committee of the Department of Psychology, Sapienza University of Rome. All subjects gave written informed consent in accordance with the Declaration of Helsinki.

Additional information

Publisher’s Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Farnese, M.L., Fida, R. & Picoco, M. Error orientation at work: Dimensionality and relationships with errors and organizational cultural factors. Curr Psychol (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-020-00639-x

Download citation

Keywords

  • Error orientation
  • Power distance culture
  • Uncertainty avoidance culture
  • Errors
  • Hofstede