The Antecedents of Safety Leadership
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Although a growing body of research shows that safety leadership is a strong predictor of safety outcomes in the construction industry, the factors that affect safety leadership are under-explored. Consequently it is unclear how to develop effective interventions to promote safety leadership. This dissertation addresses this void by adopting the Job Demand-Resource (JD-R) model grounded in positive psychology to identify what and examine how organizational and personal factors influence construction leaders’ engagement in safety leadership. This dissertation consists of three parts. The first part presents the theoretical model, which draws on the JD-R framework, used to investigate the antecedents of safety leadership. The model includes risk perception, work autonomy, and social support as organizational factors, as well as psychological capital (PsyCap) as a personal factor, that could affect leaders’ engagement in safety leadership. The second part tests the model using data from a survey of 383 construction leaders in a large U.S. construction firm. Structural equation modeling showed that work engagement significantly influences safety leadership, while psychological capital (PsyCap), social support, work autonomy, and risk perception significantly contribute to work engagement. These results indicate that the JD-R model can be extended to study safety leadership, and that improving work engagement, by enhancing organizational and personal resources, is critical for promoting safety leadership. In addition, PsyCap was found to moderate the relationship of social support on work engagement as a substitute interaction. This means that work engagement can be improved by either enhancing social support or PsyCap. The third part of this study further tests the direct effect of the organizational and personal factors studied in the second part on safety leadership. Multiple regression showed that PsyCap, social support, and work autonomy are important for safety leadership. PsyCap is particularly influential in strengthening safety leadership.