How logical is safety? An institutional logics perspective on safety at work

Pieter A. Cornelissen*, Mark van Vuuren, Joris J. van Hoof

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
72 Downloads (Pure)


BACKGROUND: Occupational incidents and accidents are still commonplace in the contemporary workplace, despite increased understandings of safety. OBJECTIVE: This article aims to yield new insights into safety-related thinking, decisions and behaviours through the application of an institutional logics perspective.

METHOD: Semi-structured interviews with twenty-two managers in a railroad construction and maintenance organisation were conducted, in which a variety of topics related to occupational safety and management were discussed.

RESULTS: The results illustrate that an institutional logics perspective provides useful insights into the different logics of the market, profession, and corporation in the occupational safety context. Furthermore, the results demonstrate contradictory viewpoints, so-called complexity, between these three logics and subsequent management approaches.

CONCLUSIONS: We demonstrate that viewing occupational safety through the lens of institutional logics leads to a better understanding of safety and reveals various rationales for safety attitudes and behaviours that otherwise may have been dismissed as irrational. Understanding and possessing the discourse of logics can help managers and safety professionals with analysis and prevention of accidents.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)135-147
Number of pages13
JournalWork (Reading, Mass.)
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2020


  • Corporation logic
  • Institutional complexity
  • Market logic
  • Profession logic
  • Workplace safety


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