Leadership, psychological capital and safety research: conceptual issues and future research questions

Jarle Eid, Kathryn J. Mearns, Gerry Larsson, Jon Christian Laberg, Bjorn Helge Johnsen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

103 Citations (Scopus)


In this theory-driven literature review we examine how leadership and emerging research in positive organizational behaviour (POB) may inform our understanding of human mechanisms that affect safety outcomes. According to authentic leadership theory, leader self-awareness and self-regulation processes
are vital mechanisms in the leader–follower exchange. From emerging research on authentic leadership, we propose that production management values, attitudes, and behaviour are linked to safety climate and safety outcomes in safety critical organizations (SCOs). According to recent developments in management theory, ‘‘psychological capital’’ is comprised of four distinct aspects that can be linked to desirable organizational outcomes and sustained high quality performance in individual workers. From this we offer a research model and five research propositions implicating that authentic leadership directly
affects safety outcomes via promoting positive safety climate perceptions. Furthermore, we propose a second path where psychological capital mediates the relationship between authentic leadership, safety climate and safety outcomes in SCOs.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)55-61
Number of pages7
JournalSafety Science
Issue number1
Early online date5 Aug 2011
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012


  • safety climate
  • safety critical organizations
  • authentic leadership
  • psychological capital


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