Date of Award

9-16-2019

Publication Type

Doctoral Thesis

Degree Name

Ph.D.

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Kwantes, C.

Keywords

Organizations, Person-environment fit, Psychological safety, Trust, Workplace

Rights

info:eu-repo/semantics/openAccess

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Abstract

Growing attention to the importance of employee psychological health has resulted in increased attention to its determinants and a growing desire to understand the psychosocial mechanisms through which employee psychological safety can be facilitated. Psychological safety is defined as employees’ taken-for-granted beliefs regarding the safety of engaging in interpersonal risk-taking, such that employees believe that they are free to express thoughts and concerns without fear of judgment or reprisal. The review focused on three important organizational constructs which have fueled considerable empirical research, largely to the exclusion of each other: psychological safety, person-environment fit, and trust. The research study adopted a perception-based focus and explored these constructs at the individual level of analysis. Specifically, this research examined the relation between individual perceptions of: perceived demographic similarity, person-environment fit (with the organization, leader, and coworkers) and psychological safety. Furthermore, this study sought to understand how trust impacts these relationships. A theoretically grounded conceptual model was advanced. Although psychological safety has been examined at multiple levels of analysis, and has been examined most commonly as a team-level construct, numerous researchers have argued that more work must be done to identify antecedents to psychological safety and to understand how employees come to feel psychologically safe at work. That is, without individuals perceiving they are psychologically safe in their work environment, there cannot be an aggregated perception of psychological safety at the team level. So while team level perceptions represent a climate of psychological safety in the workplace, the perceptions of such necessarily originate at the individual level. Determining the mechanisms through which individual’s come to perceive they are psychologically safe has both theoretical and practical merit through the potential to fuel future research with respect to creating environments and organizational cultures that facilitate more macro-level experiences of psychological safety. Data were collected from 827 participants using the Amazon Mechanical Turk crowd sourcing platform. Three path models were tested to evaluate the proposed associations between the variables for each of the three referents (organization, leader, and coworker). The results of the path analysis indicated that the proposed model showed excellent model fit to the data for each of the three referents and the model strongly suggested pathways from perceived fit (organization, leader and coworker) to perceptions of psychological safety. The data also supported significant indirect effects of perceived fit to perceptions of psychological safety through the corresponding trust referents. It may be inferred from this finding that not only does perceived fit contribute to perceptions of psychological safety, but trust also plays an integral role in the relationship processes necessary for employees to perceive they are safe to express themselves in the organizational context. This finding contributes to an understanding of the mechanisms that may lead to the development of perceptions of psychological safety in the workplace and has the potential to fuel future research focused on the development of organizational processes to facilitate psychological safety across other levels of analysis. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

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