Understanding safety culture and safety citizenship through the lens of social identity theory

Morgan J. Tear, Tom W. Reader

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


There is considerable overlap between the concepts of culture and social identity. Here, in the context of organisational safety culture, we investigate the extent to which social identity processes can inform our understanding of organisational culture on safety citizenship behaviour. We test this relationship via two different social identity processes: (1) individuals’ organisational identity (a classically individual-level conceptualisation of social identity); and (2) individuals’ perceptions of others’ organisational identities (meta-identity; a social identity framing of culture). Safety culture survey data from 1,427 air traffic workers were analyses using a simple holdout cross-validation approach for model testing. We find that both identity processes mediate the link between safety culture and safety behaviour. The data also demonstrate that the strength of indirect effect of safety culture on safety citizenship via meta-identity is stronger with increasing levels of organisational identity. Moving forward, safety culture research and interventions may benefit from taking a social identity lens to understanding their culture (e.g. developing identity for safety and safe practice), which has implications for safety behaviour. Consideration of meta-identity has implications for behaviour change initiatives, as individuals who perceive strong group commitment in other group members may be more influenced by interventions that leverage group norms.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105993
Number of pages14
JournalSafety Science
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • Behaviour change
  • Citizenship behaviour
  • Organisational culture
  • Safety culture
  • Social identity

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