ایمنی شغلی در تیم ها و سازمان های چند فرهنگی : دستور کار پژوهشی
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Publisher : Elsevier - Science Direct (الزویر - ساینس دایرکت)
Journal : Safety Science, Volume 52, February 2013, Pages 43–49
Safety is an important issue in the workplace, in particular at the lower end of the labor market where the workforce often consists of people with different cultural backgrounds. Studies have underlined the potential threats to occupational safety of this workforce. Surprisingly, however, very little research has been conducted on national culture and occupational safety. In this paper, we examine how national culture may play a role in important antecedents of safety behavior that have identified in the meta-analysis of Christian et al. (2009). We discuss safety knowledge, safety motivation, and safety climate. Based on this analysis, we make a number of suggestions for future research.
In the last years, the labor market has rapidly changed. Flexibilization and globalization have led to more self-employed workers, workers with flexible contracts, and, in particular, workers that enter the workforce in countries different from their own (European Agency for Safety and Health at Work, 2009 and Starren et al., 2009). Especially at the lower end of the labor market, where workers are more frequently employed in unsafe working environments than workers in high-skilled jobs (Venema et al., 2009), these changes may have an impact on occupational safety. For instance, in a Dutch study among approximately 25,000 workers, Van den Bossche et al. (2006) show that non-Western migrants are significantly more involved in an accident with physical or mental injury. Moreover, migrant workers have less access to personal protective equipment than native workers. Finally, migrants in low-skilled jobs often have less job opportunities, which makes it difficult for them to quit a job with low occupational safety. This finding is not limited to the Dutch context. In fact, the European Foundation for the Improvement of Living and Working Conditions (2007) has published several country reports on migrant workers (e.g., concerning Austria, Italy, and Spain), underlining that they are more exposed to risky situations than local workers. Why are migrant workers disproportionately more often affected by safety risks at work than local workers? Answers can be found in various directions: migrants’ characteristics and work characteristics. Van Hooff et al. (2009) conclude that the relatively high safety risks of migrants can be explained by the background of the migrants on the one hand (e.g., language comprehension, knowledge and understanding of local habits and risk perception), and their working environment on the other hand (temporary work, unskilled and risky work). When it comes to migrants’ characteristics, different characteristics are mentioned, such as obedience (e.g., more reluctant to address safety issues), eagerness to earn money quickly, risk perception (Guldenmund et al., 2010), language problems, understanding the importance of obeying safety regulations (De Vries et al., 2007), and unfamiliarity with local standards (Van Hooff et al., 2009). Companies seem to realize that a workforce with different cultural backgrounds can lead to difficulties, but Bukman et al. (2010) conclude that these backgrounds are hardly considered when examining occupational safety policies (cf. Vickers et al., 2003). In their study on best practices, they found that only a few companies that work with migrants had specific safety measures, and that almost all measures were focused on language issues. Whereas it is important to consider safety issues in the context of different cultural backgrounds, safety research has largely neglected this context: “constructs such as national culture […] are given little attention in the safety literature (Burke et al., 2008, p. 134). Although national culture has been put more prominently on the safety research agenda in the last years (e.g., Bust et al., 2008, Manzey and Marold, 2009 and Mearns and Yule, 2009), there is not yet a framework that may guide our current understanding of national culture and occupational safety, and that may identify promising areas for research that advance the field. In this paper, our aim is to present such a framework and a research agenda (Section 4). We base our framework on the integrative model of workplace safety of Christian et al. (2009). As this model does not account for national culture as a potential factor, we systematically analyze where it may play a role (Section 3). We first clarify our approach to national culture and multicultural teams (Section 2.1), and present the integrative model of workplace safety (Section 2.2).
نتیجه گیری انگلیسی
Very little research has been conducted on national culture and occupational safety. In this paper, we have stressed the potential of national culture in better understanding safety performance in multicultural teams and organizations by discussing relevant research from the safety science discipline and beyond. In this final section, we make a number of suggestions for future research on national culture and occupational safety. 4.1. Safety knowledge As workers’ knowledge of risks is an important antecedent of safety performance (Christian et al., 2009), and workers from different cultural backgrounds may differ in this knowledge, it is important to provide more insight into what they perceive to be risky situations. Renn and Rohrmann (2000) underline that cultural differences in risk perception may exist, but there are hardly studies on national culture and risk perception in the domain of occupational safety. It is therefore essential to study workers’ risk perceptions. Which situations are seen is risky or not? Why do some workers perceive situations as risky, whereas other workers do not? We believe experiments or focus groups may be useful methodology tools to investigate these questions. Providing information about risky situations may be a successful strategy in altering workers’ perceptions of risks. Although pictograms that provide this information have limitations, it is useful to examine how pictograms may contribute to modify risk perceptions of workers with different cultural backgrounds. It is essential here to employ qualitative research methods first (e.g., focus groups) in order to investigate how pictograms are perceived from these workers. Based on such qualitative research, guidelines may be developed that can be used in large-scale surveys examining possible national cultural differences in perception. 4.2. Safety motivation Cultural value dimensions, such as power distance and uncertainty avoidance, have proven to be an important tool in explaining attitudes and behavior in different national cultures. These value dimensions may indeed be helpful in explaining team members’ motivation to behave safely. However, cultural dimensions should not be taken as the only framework to analyze cultural differences and similarities in safety motivation. We believe that these dimensions can be useful to unravel the origins of such differences, but it has been shown particularly hard to attribute cross-cultural differences to these dimensions (e.g., Hofstede, 2001 and Hornikx and O’Keefe, 2009). We therefore believe that safety research should focus on developing tools to measure national culture on the level of the individual. On the other hand, interactions with members should be stimulated, so that organizations start to better understand why members behave differently. 4.3. Safety climate Research should be careful while taking individual scores of safety climate as proxy for team climate. When assessing its relation with individual safety measures such as safety motivation and safety performance, it may well reflect individual attitudes rather than a team’s safety climate (Guldenmund, 2007). Whereas a shared safety climate is an important determinant of safety knowledge and motivation (Christian et al., 2009), it is hard to achieve it in multicultural teams. Research should therefore focus on finding tools for increasing a shared team climate. One such tool is leadership. Earlier studies indicate that leaders sometimes feel reluctant to address cultural differences and we propose in line with Ely and Thomas (2001) that it is therefore important to study effective leadership styles in diverse work teams. We expect that transformational leadership plays an important role in increasing shared safety climate levels in diverse teams. However, as far as we know, this relationship has not been tested. We expect that studies addressing this question provide important knowledge for managers dealing with cultural diverse work context and safety matters. Finally, we connected the concept of leader–member exchange to intercultural effectiveness. As cultural differences, combined with individual differences and regulations are inexhaustible, it is important to train competences that increase leaders’ as well as team members’ intercultural effectiveness. 4.4. Final remarks The aim of the present paper was to draw attention to the potential role that national culture may play in occupational safety. Although national culture has certainly been a more prominent research topic (e.g., Bust et al., 2008, Manzey and Marold, 2009 and Mearns and Yule, 2009), we observe that there is no framework that may guide the understanding of national culture and occupational safety. Based on the integrative model of workplace safety of Christian et al. (2009), we have examined how national culture may affect safety knowledge, safety motivation, and safety climate. Although the research we presented is certainly not exhaustive, we believe that our research agenda constitutes a first step at better understanding the determinants of national culture in safety behavior of multicultural teams and organizations. We certainly do not intend to say that national culture is the most important factor that explains migrant workers’ disproportionately higher safety risks, but it deserves more research attention than it has previously received – especially in times of globalization.