An investigation into the managerial motivations for varying health and safety management practices : case studies and analyses of fire departments in Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden
MetadataShow full item record
The aim of this study was to identify how top managers’ health and safety (H&S) management practices are affected by their motivations. The research focused on the top organisational level because, under the European framework of enforced selfregulation, it is those managers who are responsible for appropriate H&S conditions in workplaces. The study’s results should help to better understand managers’ decision making, supporting H&S authorities and other stakeholders in promoting safety at work. Managerial systems and underlying H&S motivations were investigated based on 24 semi-structured interviews with top-management representatives of medium-sized organisations. The sample comprised four professional fire departments in each of the selected countries: Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. Relying on a pragmatic research paradigm, the interview data and related organisational documents were used to develop cross-sectional case studies. These were subject to inductive within-case and cross-case analyses, including the development of three country cases. The findings have been aggregated into a typology of managers’ H&S motivations in their managerial and regulatory context. A distinction is made between two types of decision makers: Law Managers and Law & People Managers. The first type reacts to the power of formal rules only, striving to implement legally required H&S procedures. The second type additionally exhibits moral and personal motivations. These moral views result in more effective approaches to H&S management. In contradiction with legal requirements, Law & People Managers often use focused change projects to improve H&S conditions, which was exemplified at organisations in all three countries. The study contributes to the scientific and practical discourse by adding a new managerial perspective on H&S. This can improve communication between managers and authorities, allowing organisations to apply this study’s empirically tested model of effective project-based H&S management. It is recommended that regulations and corporate training aim at sensitising top managers to the moral aspects of H&S.