Organizational climate refers to the observable attitudes and behaviors of organizational members [39
] regarding practices, procedures, and rewarded behavior [40
]. Although it was originally conceptualized as a “molar” construct [41
], research has increasingly focused on organizational facet-specific climates in relation to specific targets of employees’ perceptions, giving rise to the so-called “climate for” approach [42
], in which employees are asked to report their perceptions towards specific aspects of the organizational policies, practices and rewarded behaviors (e.g., safety, production, justice, customer service). The aggregation of such perceptions within the organization represents the classical operationalization of the underlying organizational facet-specific climate [43
Studies focusing on facet-specific climates have provided a valuable contribution in several fields of organizational and health psychology. For example, a large body of evidence converges in highlighting safety climate as a key determinant of employees’ safety perceptions and behaviors within the workplace [6
]. However, one of the limitations of the “climate for” approach is that researchers have often examined the impact of facet-specific climates only in relation to facet-specific outcomes, that is narrow outcomes tied to specific facets of organizational climate [11
], such as injuries and accidents as outcomes of organizational safety climate. In a similar vein, the interactive (cross-level) effects of facet-specific climates on the relationship linking individual determinants to safety performance have been frequently examined only considering single facet-specific climates (although there are rare exceptions [20
Despite the dearth of research incorporating multiple climates, researchers have acknowledged the theoretical and practical importance of simultaneously considering multiple facet-specific climates (e.g., [45
]). Such an approach provides three distinct advantages above a single facet-specific climate approach. First, it encourages researchers to model simultaneously multiple aspects of the molar organizational climate that generally coexist and operate in concert. For example, Jiang and Probst [20
] found that both group safety and productivity climates affect safety compliance (with opposite directions of their relative effects). Second, it allows researchers to examine how different organizational demands and resources mitigate (or exacerbate) the impact of individual resources and demands on facet-specific or non-facet specific outcomes. In the same study as above, Jiang and Probst [20
] found that the impact of the safety-production conflict (SPC) on accident reporting attitudes was simultaneously attenuated by customer service climate and exacerbated by group-level productivity climate. Third, it provides a rationale to examine the boundary conditions of the effects of multiple climates at different levels of analysis (e.g., organizational and/or individual). For example, Myer et al. [23
] found in their research a positive significant interaction among organizational service and ethical climates on organizational financial performance but no significant main effects.
In the present study, we focus on the role of two organizational facet-specific climates (i.e., for safety and for production pressure) representing, respectively, two pivotal organizational resources and demands potentially competing for the enactment of a consistent pattern of behavior from the employees (i.e., safe versus unsafe behavior).These constructs are of key interest for organizational climate theory focused on workplace safety, since they underlie the basic elements of safety-production compatibility systems [48
], where employees are required to work under production pressure without avoidingto behave safely. However, if organizational demands regarding production pressure exceed safety climate resources, this may seriously undermine employees’ health and safety. Moreover, in cases of relevant mismatches between organizational safety resources and production pressure demands, employer’s goals may conflict with those of the employees [49
], and this may result in ambiguous appraisals of organizational policies and practices potentially undermining employee safety
2.3.1. Organizational Safety Climate and Safety Behaviors
Shared perceptions of safety within organizational contexts reflect the extent to which safety is rewarded, expected, valued and reinforced by the organization [50
]. Interestingly, although previous empirical research has operationalized safety climate both at the individual-level (i.e., psychological safety climate perceptions [51
]) and at higher contextual levels (i.e., shared perceptions at the workgroup or organizational level [52
]), Christian et al. [6
] found that the higher-level operationalizations of safety climate demonstrated stronger relationships with individual safety outcomes than those found with psychological safety climate. Accordingly, in our current study we operationalize safety climate at the organizational level.
Using the JD-R model as our theoretical foundation, we propose that a positive organizational safety climate can be viewed as a beneficial organizational-level resource for employees. Indeed, recent meta-analyses summarizing the extant work has found that a positive safety climate is predictive of a host of beneficial employee safety-related outcomes, including improved safety knowledge, safety motivation, compliance, and safety participation, as well as reduced accidents and injuries (e.g., [6
]). Based on these meta-analytic research findings, we expect that:
A positive organizational-level safety climate is predictive of fewer risky safety behaviors enacted by employees.
Moreover, we argue that the resource of a positive safety climate not only has direct positive benefits (i.e., a main effect) on employee safety, but will also attenuate the negative effects of job demands facing employees. In particular, under conditions of high workload, a positive organizational safety climate may provide employees with secondary support mechanisms [53
], allowing them to better meet those demands without compromising safety. For example, a positive safety climate may signal to employees that it is acceptable to maintain appropriate safety behaviors even under conditions of high job demands, because such behaviors are normatively valued and rewarded by the organization. On the other hand, under conditions of a poor safety climate, employees facing high workload demands may perceive a low organizational value for safety and engage in risky safety behaviors in order to meet those demands. Thus, we expect the following cross-level interaction effect:
A more positive organizational safety climate significantly attenuates the impact of individually perceived workload on the enactment of risky safety behaviors.
The paths leading to a given level of job performance may substantially vary across organizations (i.e., the organizational equifinality principle, [54
]). For example, organizations exhibiting high production standards may undervalue safety aspects [52
]. In this sense, safety and productivity can be viewed as complex systems of competing goals which coexist and simultaneously act in the workplace, and their impact on organizational performance depends on their relative and mutual organizational priorities shared by managers and employees [55
]. However, risky behaviors under high contextual job demands are likely to increase [56
], because employees that undertake shortcuts and deviate from safety rules may legitimize these strategies to better meet productivity goals (e.g., [48
]). Therefore, an imbalance between production demands and safety requirements may have serious consequences for employees’ physical health [60
]. Moreover, employees tend to share the belief that highly productive workers are more desirable than safety-oriented workers [61
], and this may lead employees to share common mental models implicitly accepting the need to systematically violate safety rules to reach productivity goals (e.g., [62
In this sense, work pressure reflects a broad concept incorporating a plethora of narrow constructs concerned with employees’ perceptions of different aspects of job demands and their ability to cope with such demands [63
]. Accordingly, high levels of work pressure can lead to excessive efforts to achieve production goals (e.g., [65
]). This set of job demands intrinsically exists in every profit-based organization, since in most cases the ultimate purpose of companies is achieving profit goals.
While sources and effects of production pressure have been studied at the employee level (e.g., [18
]), there is theoretical and empirical evidence that such individual perceptions may coalesce at higher levels of analysis. In our current study, we focus on the shared perception among employees within organizations about production pressure and, accordingly, operationalize production pressure climate at the organizational level. In particular, employee perceptions of production pressure may be consistently shaped by the organizational context [66
], since individuals are generally exposed within the workplace to common organizational conditions of work pace (e.g., time schedules) and production boundaries (e.g., productivity goals and deadlines).
It is important to note here that organizational production pressure and safety climates should not be viewed as two sides of the same coin. Indeed, as suggested by Zohar [67
], safety climate “should be operationalized in the context of other competing task domains” (p. 1518). In fact, production pressure and safety climate pursue two competing operational goals (i.e., safety versus production) which are not necessarily interdependent. For example, some organizations may prioritize both production and safety aspects (or just one of them), and while employees may espouse a given relative priority (e.g., safety) at the same time they might enact behaviors which are not aligned with it, depending on the kinds of behaviors that maximize the likelihood to be rewarded by the organization [67
]. In this vein, Jiang and Probst [20
] found evidence for the emergence of a productivity climate, namely the “employees’ shared perceptions of the policies, practices and procedures that are rewarded, supported and expected concerning productivity” (p. 176) at the work-group level. Similarly, we expect individual perceptions of production pressure to be partially shaped by a common organizational core, reflecting the shared organizational tendency to pursue productivity goals at the expense of personal safety (i.e., production pressure climate). Moreover, a higher production pressure climate is predicted to increase the likelihood of circumventing safety rules (e.g., [29
]) by enacting risky patterns of behavior in order to meet productivity requirements [68
]. Overall, these considerations lead us to hypothesize that:
A higher organizational-level production pressure climate increases the likelihood of employees’ enactment of risky safety behaviors.
As with safety climate, we not only expect a cross-level direct effect of production pressure climate on individual risky safety behaviors, but also a cross-level moderation effect. Specifically, consistent with the JD-R model, job demands may accumulate and “interact with each other” [1
](p. 278). Focusing on our hypothesized model, production pressure climate plays a dual role. On the one hand, it can increase the enactment of individual risky safety behaviors beyond the effect of individual job demands (i.e., workload) and organizational resources (i.e., safety climate). On the other hand, a higher production pressure climate is likely to exacerbate the effect of workload on the enactment of risky safety behavior at the employee level. With regards to the latter, organizations that require employees to work quickly and to systematically achieve stringent deadlines are more prone to normatively promote individual behaviors directed at the pursuit of productivity goals at the cost of safety [69
]. This may boost the effect of individually perceived job demands on safety-oriented behaviors by enhancing mechanisms of social comparison and compliance with organizational requirements [70
]. Thus, we expect that:
A higher organizational production pressure climate significantly exacerbates the impact of individually perceived workload on the enactment of risky safety behaviors.
2.3.2. The Interplay among Organizational Safety and Production Pressure Climates in Relation to Safety Behaviors
Following the typology proposed by Kuenzi and Schminke [11
], organizational safety and production pressure climates are focused on core operations, namely “operational goals of the organization” (p. 693). In this respect, each organizational facet-specific climate has its own set of operational goals, which can be conceptualized as their typical facet-specific outcomes. On the one hand, organizational safety climate has been linked to a plethora of safety indicators, such as safety compliance, accidents, injuries and near misses [71
]. On the other hand, facet-specific outcomes of organizational production pressure climate may be linked to task performance, such as individual productivity [72
Although our overarching model explicitly posits a facet-specific outcome of the organizational safety climate (i.e., risky safety behaviors), it is not uncommon that organizations simultaneously prioritize both safety and production policies, practices and rewarded behaviors [73
]. From an organizational standpoint, a marked imbalance between safety climate resources and production pressure demands may be interpreted by the employees as a signal of their incompatibility. Indeed, in cases as such these, facet-specific climates “compete for workers’ attention and workers will have to make choices about where to allocate available attention and effort” [48
] (p. 301).
In a similar vein, Quinn and Rohrbaugh [74
] proposed the competing values framework (CVF), which allows one to distinguish organizational facet-specific climates (i.e., individual or organizational means) and outcomes (i.e., individual or organizational ends) according to their focus and structure (and their possible combinations). With regards to structure, both means and ends can be internal (e.g., focused on the management of employees within the organization) or external (e.g., focused on the dynamics concerned with outer stakeholder, such as customers and clients). With respect to structure, both means and ends can be oriented towards control (e.g., maintenance of stability and internal consistency of organizational practices and processes) or flexibility (e.g., efficiency and productivity of organizational practices and processes).Consistent with the CVF framework, safety climate can be considered an organizational resource (in CVF terms, an organizational means) located within the internal control quadrant, focused on organizational policies, practices and rewarded behaviors aimed at maintaining the homeostasis of employees’ safety which, in turn, can be defined within the CVF framework as an internal control end. Indeed, safety behaviors are enacted by the employees within the organization in compliance with safety rules. Noteworthy, organizational safety climate and individual safety behaviors lie beneath the same CVF quadrant. In contrast, organizational production pressure climate can be assumed as an external flexible means aimed at satisfying efficiency and productivity needs of outer stakeholders and final customers.
Given these premises, since organizational safety and production pressure climates compete for different operational goals [52
], one can argue that safety climate may also restrain the impact of other potential threats to individual safety in order to guarantee the internal consistency of the internal control means-ends relationship. Moreover, since safety behaviors are facet-specific outcomes of organizational safety climate [11
], we expect this organizational facet-specific climate to moderate the effect of other facet-specific climates focused on alternative competing values (e.g., [20
]). In other words, we expect that:
A higher organizational safety climate significantly attenuates the impact of organizational production pressure climate on the enactment of risky safety behaviors.