Author ORCID Identifier

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)



First Advisor

Dr. Peter Zhang

Second Advisor

Dr. Todd Mauer

Third Advisor

Dr. Likoebe Maruping


How Safety Leadership Styles Impact Employee Safety Behaviors


Michelle McRae Payne

April 2023

Chair: Peter Zhang

Major Academic Unit: Doctorate in Business Administration

Job-related injuries continue to be a salient problem facing many organizations. Achieving zero recordable injuries in the workplace is something that many companies endeavor to accomplish. Prior research has examined the role of leadership in influencing and improving workplace safety. However, studies of safety leadership have focused on the styles or behaviors of leaders without taking into account the influence of context on leader activities or practices. In this research, I perform a multi-case study with in-depth analyses of how different leadership styles impact employee safety behaviors and safety performance. The research settings are two manufacturing facilities within a large consumer products company that have excellent safety performance. The results suggest that different leadership styles influence employee safety behaviors (specifically, safety compliance and safety participation) and safety performance. The study also reveals the mechanisms through which transactional leadership, transformational leadership, and leader-member exchange impact safety performance via the following safety antecedents: unified safety vision, motivational role modeling, knowledge management, policies and procedures, recognition and rewards, and safety resourcing. It adds to prior research that multiple leadership styles contribute to employee safety behaviors and overall workplace safety in different ways. The study answers the call for more safety research regarding contextual antecedents within a specific context that drive successful safety performance by identifying factors that shape positive employee safety behaviors. It also provides insights on how organizational training programs can be designed to develop effective safety leadership.


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