Can Teamwork Promote Safety in Organizations?
Posted: 9 Mar 2020
Date Written: January 2020
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.
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