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Research

Our research assumes that the social world is pluralistic, that each person, team and organisation has a distinctive perspective or worldview which stems from their interests and practices. Divergences in perspectives are central to the development of higher mental functions such as identity, normative beliefs, language, internal dialogues and agency, and impact on communication, decision-making and its outcomes (e.g. safety). We thus believe that communication is meaningful and measurable. Research is conducted in a number of projects centred around three related research themes:

VOICE
VOICE

LISTENING
LISTENING

SHARED UNDERSTANDING
SHARED UNDERSTANDING

1. Voice

a. Organisational cultures of safety. This research investigates i) how organisational culture is perceived by members of an organisation, and ii) how safety-related behaviours (e.g. speaking-up, risk-taking) are shaped by organisational culture. This research is supported by a EUROCONTROL (part of the European Commission) grant to investigate safety culture in Air Traffic Management. We investigate whether it is possible to scale and compare organisational culture in different countries (within a single integrated industry), and if so, to establish whether organisational culture is shaped by national culture, and how to facilitate learning between countries. Related to this we are interested in safety culture within healthcare environments, and in particular barriers to speaking-up on poor patient care.

2. Listening
a. Care and well-being. This research explores how ‘caring’ relationships can influence organisational safety. First, in healthcare, the research team examines how uncaring relationships between patients and hospital caregivers create negative outcomes for patient safety (patient neglect). Specifically, through examining a database of 1,500 hospital patient complaints, the association between poor patient care and caregiver-patient relationships is being explored (funded by an LSE seed fund grant). We aim to develop a new methodology for analysing patient’ letters of complaint, and to examine how a focus on ‘targets’ can compromise caring relationships. Second, in the energy industry, the research team examines (with Dr Kathryn Means) whether employees in ‘caring organisations’ (e.g. for employee health) are more likely to engage in reciprocal safety activities (e.g. reporting incidents) essential for organisational well-being.
b. Cyranoids and implicit attributions. This research project focusses on developing new methods of experimentation for illuminating social psychological phenomena, principally how implicit attributions shape intersubjective contexts. This research project focusses on two specific domains of intersubjective analysis. The first concerns how humans experience socialising with “human-like” forms of artificial intelligence. The second concerns how implicit self-representations affect behaviour, strategy, and outcomes in distributive economic bargaining simulations.

3. Shared understanding
a. Non-technical skills. This research applies psychological theory (on teamwork, leadership, situation awareness, and decision-making) to investigate the skills and activities that underpin safe performance during high-risk work tasks. It aims to both develop interventions for improving organisational safety (e.g. observational frameworks, training packages, incident analysis tools), and also to develop psychological theory on workplace behaviour (through examining psychology concepts in ‘real-world’ settings). The research team manages or supervises a number of projects in this area, including the study of expert decision-making for ethically complex medical scenarios, leadership during patient reviews and medical crises (previously supported by a Leverhulme Fellowship), and human error in financial trading.
b. Systems approaches to safety. This research aims to understand how the concepts above interact to shape organisational safety outcomes, by applying systems-thinking approaches to develop new models of organisational safety. This theoretical work aims to model and explain the interactions between organisational systems and behaviour that lead to organisational accidents (e.g. The Deepwater Horizon incident), and to develop models for avoiding future incidents.

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