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What is safety leadership?: A systematic review of definitions

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineLiterature reviewpeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>15/04/2024
<mark>Journal</mark>Journal of Safety Research
Number of pages11
Publication StatusAccepted/In press
<mark>Original language</mark>English


To the authors’ knowledge, no systematic review has examined the definition of safety leadership in the academic literature to date. A review was therefore carried out to determine how safety leadership was defined in the peer reviewed empirical literature and thematic analysis was employed to identify patterned meanings across the data.

Thirty-seven primary definitions, or definitions that were not borrowed from other studies, were identified. Of these 37, seven conceptual definitions were found to be evidence-based, six of which were endorsed by their operational counterpart definitions and one which was derived using exploratory research.

These seven definitions showed strong alignment with the three themes that emerged from the thematic analysis that capture the why, how, and who of safety leadership. Transformational leadership theory formed the foundation for many of the definitions in the academic literature, despite recent evidence suggesting that adopting multiple forms of leadership styles would be more effective for improving workplace safety.

Practical Applications
Gaps in the current evidence base are explored and suggestions for future research are discussed.