Keiser, Nathanael Lincoln (2017-07). National Culture and Safety: A Meta-Analysis of the Relationships Between Hofstede's Cultural Value Dimensions and Workplace Safety Constructs. Doctoral Dissertation. Thesis uri icon


  • National culture, often conceptualized using Hofstede's five cultural value dimensions (individualism-collectivism, power distance, uncertainty avoidance, masculinity-femininity, and long- vs. short-term orientation), has been linked to numerous workplace perceptions and behavior. However, workplace safety researchers commonly ignore the influence of culture. The primary objectives of this study were to provide theoretical explanations for the relationships between Hofstede's cultural values and workplace safety constructs, and then meta-analytically examine these relationships and pertinent moderators. Theories concerning national culture, cultural values, motivation, and attraction-selection-attrition, along with previous safety models were used as the basis to contend that Hofstede's cultural values at the psychological, organizational/group, and national level influence safety constructs (i.e., safety climate, leadership, social support, risk and hazards, safety motivation and knowledge, safety compliance and participation, and safety outcomes). Individualism and long-term orientation were hypothesized as positive correlates of safety perceptions and behavior, whereas power distance, uncertainty avoidance, and masculinity were expected to be negatively related to safety constructs. Relationships between cultural values and safety, and proposed moderators (national-organizational cultural value difference and organizational cultural value variation) were examined using psychometric meta-analytic procedures of the findings iii from 30 previous studies (416 effect sizes, N = 682,993). Uncertainty avoidance displayed the most consistent and strongest negative relationships with safety perceptions and behavior and positive relationship with safety outcomes. Long-term orientation and to some extent masculinity were also generally consistent with the expected relationships, as long-term orientation was positively related to safety constructs and masculinity was typically negatively related to safety. Findings for individualism and power distance were typically small and the largest effects were contrary to expectation. The direct effect analyses largely reflected the existence of moderators and tests of the moderating conditions identified two primary considerations: (1) the relationships between cultural values and safety depended in part on the broader national cultural context and organizational culture and (2) the size of the correlations tended to be opposite of expectations in non-West organizations and for industries that have received less research attention. These results offer a number of impactful theoretical and practical implications for workplace safety research.

publication date

  • July 2017