Can Teamwork Promote Safety in Organizations?

Posted: 9 Mar 2020

See all articles by Eduardo Salas

Eduardo Salas

Rice University

Tiffany M. Bisbey

Rice University

Allison M. Traylor

Rice University

Michael A. Rosen

Johns Hopkins University - Department of Medicine

Date Written: January 2020

Abstract

In this review, we conceptualize teamwork as the linchpin driving safety performance throughout an organization. Safety is promoted by teams through various mechanisms that interact in a complex and dynamic process. We press pause on this dynamic process to organize a discussion highlighting the critical role played by teamwork factors in the engagement of safe and unsafe behavior, identifying five team-level emergent states that enable effective teamwork and safety: psychological safety, team trust, collective efficacy, shared mental models, and situation awareness. Additionally, we consider foundational conditions that support team-driven safety, the development of safety culture, and the importance of team safety climate in shaping performance. We discuss leveraging teams to generate safety and identify directions for future research investigating the relationship between teamwork and safety. Overall, we submit that researchers and practitioners would benefit from taking a systems perspective of safety by integrating principles of team science to better understand and promote safety in organizations.

Suggested Citation

Salas, Eduardo and Bisbey, Tiffany M. and Traylor, Allison M. and Rosen, Michael A., Can Teamwork Promote Safety in Organizations? (January 2020). Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, Vol. 7, Issue 1, pp. 283-313, 2020, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3550384 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1146/annurev-orgpsych-012119-045411

Eduardo Salas (Contact Author)

Rice University ( email )

6100 South Main Street
Houston, TX 77005-1892
United States

Tiffany M. Bisbey

Rice University ( email )

6100 South Main Street
Houston, TX 77005-1892
United States

Allison M. Traylor

Rice University ( email )

6100 South Main Street
Houston, TX 77005-1892
United States

Michael A. Rosen

Johns Hopkins University - Department of Medicine ( email )

720 Rutland Avenue
Baltimore, MD 21205-2196
United States

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