Team Conscientiousness, Team Safety Climate, and Individual Safety Performance: a Cross-Level Mediation Model

Abstract

Responding to calls for studies to examine the cross-level influence of team personality composition, we hypothesized a cross-level mediation model of the effects of different operationalizations of team conscientiousness (i.e., mean, minimum, maximum, and variance) on individual safety performance through team safety climate. We tested our model using a three-wave longitudinal design with a sample of 451 employees and 70 supervisors nested within 70 teams from two branches of one hospital. The results of our multilevel path analyses indicated that the mean, minimum, and variance—but not maximum—operationalizations of team conscientiousness at time 1 were significantly related to team safety climate at time 2. Further, team conscientiousness (i.e., mean, minimum, and variance) at time 1 exerted a top-down influence on both self-ratings and supervisor ratings of individual safety compliance and safety participation at time 3 through team safety climate at time 2, suggesting that team personality composition can influence outcomes at different levels of analyses. Theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    We thank the editor and the anonymous reviewers for their suggestion of considering different operationalizations of team conscientiousness and several alternative models.

  2. 2.

    We also measured internal and external locus of control. The results indicated that team minimum internal locus of control (γ = − 0.03, SE = 0.01, p = 0.007), team variance internal locus of control (γ = 0.33, SE = 0.12, p = 0.006), and team minimum external locus of control (γ = −0.012, SE = 0.006, p = 0.046) were significantly related to team safety climate. Other operationalizations of team internal and external locus of control were not significantly related to team safety climate. Further, when controlling the effects of team internal and external locus of control, our results regarding different operationalizations of team conscientiousness did not change.

  3. 3.

    We tested several alternative models that were suggested during the review process. First, we ran models with team mean/variance conscientiousness excluding the focal individual’s conscientiousness score. Specifically, team mean conscientiousness excluding the focal individual’s conscientiousness score was significantly related to team safety climate (γ = 0.39, SE = 0.11, p < 0.001), which significantly influenced both safety compliance (self-ratings: γ = 0.39, SE = 0.14, p < 0.01; supervisor-ratings: γ = 0.40, SE = 0.17, p < 0.05) and safety participation (self-ratings: γ = 0.60, SE = 0.14, p < 0.001; supervisor-ratings: γ = 0.45, SE = 0.20, p < .05). However, although team variance conscientiousness excluding the focal individual’s conscientiousness score was still negatively related to team safety climate (γ = − 0.26, SE = 0.17, p = 0.12), this linkage was no longer significant. Prewett et al. (2018) suggested that the variance operationalization of team personality excluding the focal individual’s personality score lacks construct validity. Further, the variance scores of team conscientiousness for the teams with only two individuals will completely lose its conceptual meaning of heterogeneity (variance or diversity) by excluding the focal individual’s score, as these teams will become “one-person” teams. Second, the results were identical between the models with individual conscientiousness and the models without individual conscientiousness. Third, we tested whether team conscientiousness moderated the relationship between individual conscientiousness and safety performance. However, the results did not support the moderation role of team conscientiousness. Fourth, we examined whether safety climate strength moderated the relationship between safety climate and individual safety performance, however, the results did not support the moderation role of safety climate strength. Finally, team conscientiousness regardless of its operationalizations was not significantly related to the strength of team safety climate.

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Xu, X., Le, N., He, Y. et al. Team Conscientiousness, Team Safety Climate, and Individual Safety Performance: a Cross-Level Mediation Model. J Bus Psychol 35, 503–517 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-019-09637-8

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Keywords

  • Team composition
  • Conscientiousness
  • Safety climate
  • Safety performance
  • Cross-level analysis