Intervention in Multi-cultural Organizatioons - Prevention of accidents as political change processes

Mette Bang Dyhrberg

    Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


    The point of departure for this contribution is a disappointing status of the Danish work environment regulation and accident prevention. The number of reported accidents at work is maintained at a high level. One explanation is the lack of common intervention methods appropriated to Danish workplaces and the contribution communicates ongoing work with such a method, including political, cultural and structural elements. A selective study of literature within safety culture, corporate culture and organisational theory has shown that the safety culture approach can benefit from the organisational culture approaches of Alvesson and Geertz and organisational theory dealing with political processes (Pettigrew, Knights). The implicit models of organisation and man within mainstream safety culture approaches seems to be too rationalistic compared with day to day life of organisations. The concept of a multicultural organisation thus aims at encompassing the multitude of actor positions within an organisation with a possible influence on the preventive work. The planning of the intervention is furthermore not made once in the beginning but should rather be anticipated as an ongoing negotiation. Central elements of the intervention can be, and should be, changed in order to achieve forms of prevention. A case study of a manufacturing enterprise, is used to demonstrate the benefits of mobilizing these additional approaches. It is shown how different sets of meaning assigned to accidents -cultures- are in conflict and that the accident analysing process leads to the domination of one of them; the "faulty human behaviour" perception, thus subjugating the workers view. Hence an intervention method aiming at the prevention of accidents must built on, first an understanding of an organisation as a Multi-cultural Organisation. Second on change processes as political processes where the needed change has to be negotiated and reshaped in order to build the necessary alliances.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalSafety Science Monitor
    Volumevol 3
    Pages (from-to)[6 pp.]
    Publication statusPublished - 1999


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