Understanding How Managers Balance the Paradoxical Nature of Occupational Safety Through a Practice-driven Institutional Lens

Katharina N. Jeschke*

*Corresponding author af dette arbejde

Publikation: Bidrag til tidsskriftTidsskriftartikelForskningpeer review

5 Downloads (Pure)


There is an increasing interest in integrating occupational safety into contemporary organizations’ management systems for the continual prevention of work-related injury, ill-health, and death. However, we know little about the micro-processes of managerial safety practices, particularly in understanding how organizational members enact competing organizational goals in their everyday work activities. This paper examines the mundane day-to-day practices by which construction site and project managers balance seemingly paradoxical demands in their everyday work. Using a combination of observational, interview and documentary data collected from three Danish construction projects, this study shows how institutional complexity (logics of professionalism, production, and regulation) affects managers’ safety-related thinking, motivation, and practice, and how managers beneficially bridge multiple institutional logics through: 1) Silent acknowledgment, 2) A collaborative relational network, and 3) Dynamic decision-making. The paper contributes to the literature on safety management by outlining how managers on the ground balance safety paradoxes and, thus, transcend either-or understandings of safety. These insights are highly relevant as they show concrete ways in which managers attend to competing demands simultaneously and how safety can be integrated into managerial safety practices.
TidsskriftSafety Science
Antal sider14
StatusUdgivet - mar. 2022

Bibliografisk note

Published online: 9 December 2021.


  • Safety paradox
  • Institutional logics
  • Complexity
  • Safety practice
  • Ethnography
  • Construction industry