The dual effects of leading for safety: The mediating role of employee regulatory focus

J Appl Psychol. 2015 Sep;100(5):1332-48. doi: 10.1037/a0038818. Epub 2015 Feb 9.


This study examined the underlying mechanisms through which transformational and transactional leadership influence employee safety behaviors. Linking leadership theory with self-regulatory focus (SRF) theory, we examined a model of dual effects of leadership on safety initiative and safety compliance behaviors as mediated by promotion and prevention self-regulations. We conducted an experimental study (N = 107), an online study (N = 99) and a field study (N = 798 employees and 49 managers). Results demonstrated that followers' situational promotion focus mediated the positive relationship between transformational leadership and safety initiative behaviors. Through all 3 studies, transactional active leadership was positively associated with followers' situational prevention focus, however, the association between followers' prevention focus and safety compliance behaviors was inconsistent, showing the expected mediation relationships in the experimental setting, but not in the online and field studies. We discuss theoretical and practical implications of the findings.

MeSH terms

  • Employment / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Leadership*
  • Occupational Health*
  • Organizational Culture*
  • Young Adult