Senior managers can influence safety culture and it is therefore important to understand how they think about this aspect of their organisation. Examining senior managers’ interpretations of safety culture (via content and artefacts like language), is one way to address this issue. Safety culture descriptions obtained through interviews with senior managers (N = 8) from two air traffic management organisations in Europe were subjected to content analysis based on Reason’s (1997) safety culture model and linguistic analysis (using Leximancer). The content analysis indicated ‘just culture’ as a dominant theme in senior managers’ thinking about safety culture. Close links between the linguistic themes ‘people’ and ‘safety’ were found in both organisations. Senior managers from Organisation 1 viewed ‘management’ as crucial for safety culture and the linguistic analysis suggested flatter hierarchies and communication might facilitate their approach. Organisation 2 was characterised by a focus on ‘reporting culture’, ‘performance’, ‘data’ and ‘accountability’. The findings of the two complementary methods of analysis illustrated how the conscious, as well as the subconscious, levels of understanding safety culture might be related. Organisations may benefit from an investigation of their leaders’ safety culture views through linguistic analysis, in addition to questionnaires and other measures.
- safety culture
- senior managers