Losing Face from Engagement: An Overlooked Risk in the Implementation of Participatory Organisational Health and Safety Initiatives in the Construction Industry

Jeppe Z. N. Ajslev*, Christian Dyrlund Wåhlin-Jacobsen, Mikkel Brandt, Jeppe L. Møller, Lars L. Andersen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

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Participatory designs are regarded as a positive way to develop and execute organisational health and safety interventions in the construction industry. While most studies focus on effect measures, little is known about process-related factors shaping the outcomes of interventions. In this article, the authors suggest that success in implementing organisational interventions is tied to microsocial mechanisms that affect whether engagement and creativity materialise into improvements. In this regard, interaction within intervention activities has been overlooked as relevant data sources. To exemplify how these may be useful, video-recorded interactions between participants in an intervention workshop setting are analysed. The framework focuses on threats to the participants’ face (i.e. their public self-image), the participants “facework”, and on how social action is oriented to deontic, epistemic and emotional domains of order. The analysis shows how threats to the participants’ faces arise in interaction, diverting the focus of discussions away from the aim of the workshops; developing initiatives to improve employees’ health and safety. The analysis highlights that participatory interventions may be ineffective if potential face threats are not mitigated and managed actively. We suggest that the manager-facilitator-employee communicational design should be an area of increased focus.
Original languageEnglish
JournalConstruction Management and Economics
Issue number9
Pages (from-to)824-839
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020


  • Conversation analysis
  • Construction industry
  • Occupational health and safety
  • Organisational interventions

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