This post follows on the issue of whether safety culture is a concept unto itself or a state that is defined by many constituent actions. Some of our own thinking about safety culture in developing the nuclearsafetysim website and tools led us to prefer a focus on safety management as opposed to safety culture. Safety management includes the key “levers” of organizational performance (e.g., resource allocation, problem idenfication and resolution, building of trust, etc.) and the integrated effect of the manipulation of these levers results in a safety culture “value” in the simulation. Thus all the dynamics flow from actions and decisions to a safety culture resultant, not the reverse.
Dare I put forth a sports analogy? In baseball there is a defined “strike zone”. In theory the umpire uses the strike zone to make calls of balls and strikes. But the zone is really open to interpretation in the dynamic, three dimensional world of pitching and umpiring. The reality is that the strike zone becomes the space delineated by the aggregate set of balls and strike calls by an umpire. It relies on the skill of the umpire, his understanding of the strike zone and his commitment to making accurate calls. The linked article provides some interesting data on the strike zone and the psychology of umpires' decisions.
Link to "Schrodinger’s Bat" July 26, 2007.