Skills, knowledge and senior managers' demonstrations of safety commitment

L.S. Fruhen, K.J. Mearns, R. Flin, B. Kirwan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Citations (Scopus)


Senior managers’ safety commitment is emphasised in the safety literature as a crucial influence on organisational safety. Yet there is little understanding of the characteristics that underpin their ability to engage in behaviours that demonstrate safety commitment. This study investigates the contribution of problem-solving, social competence and safety knowledge to such behaviours. Senior managers (N = 60) from European and North American air traffic management organisations participated in interviews consisting of open questions designed to trigger safety knowledge and descriptions of behaviours that demonstrate safety commitment as well as scenarios designed to trigger problem-solving and social competence. Reliable scores were generated through systematic scoring procedures involving two independent coders. The results indicated that problem-solving, namely the number of issues and information sources considered when understanding problems and generating ideas to solve a problem were positively related to demonstrations of safety commitment. The ability to perceive others was also found to correlate with safety commitment, whereas safety knowledge was not associated with behaviours that demonstrate safety commitment. It is proposed that training and guidance designed for senior managers should focus on their problem-solving abilities and perception of others in order to support them in demonstrating safety commitment.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)29-36
Number of pages8
JournalSafety Science
Early online date25 Sept 2013
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2014


  • senior managers
  • safety commitment
  • skills


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