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Integrating a Top‐Down and a Bottom‐Up Approach: Formal and Informal Risk‐Handling Strategies in a Utility Company

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In this study, we bring together a top‐down and a bottom‐up approach of risk handling. We do so by conceptualizing and qualitatively and quantitatively measuring formal and informal risk‐handling strategies in a Dutch utility company. We conceive of formal risk handling as regulating, training, and educating safety and enforcing rule compliance, while we distinguish three different informal risk‐handling strategies: discretionary specialization, tacit knowledge, and taking personal responsibility. We show that the formal risk‐handling strategy and the three informal risk‐handling strategies can be measured separately. Hence, we have validated the measurement of all four strategies derived from two different risk‐handling approaches. Moreover, we have demonstrated that the perceived use of the four strategies has different effects on unsafe behavior: formal risk handling and tacit knowledge decrease it, discretion increases it, and taking personal responsibility has no effect on unsafe behavior.

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Department of Sociology, Faculty of Social Sciences, Erasmus University Rotterdam, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

Publication date: 2012-09-01

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