Inter-organizational complexity and safety culture in nuclear industry projects

Nadezhda Gotcheva, Marja Ylönen

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


    Background Typically, safety culture models aim at grasping a culture of a coherent unit, and it is vague how to apply them in large-scale project networks that consist of multiple varied agents with somewhat conflicting objectives. Recent studies in the nuclear industry identified a set of practical and theoretical challenges for applying the concept of safety culture in a dynamic network of subcontractors involved in the construction of a new nuclear power plant (Macchi et al., 2013; Oedewald and Gotcheva, 2015). The present work focuses on exploring the links between inter-organisational complexity and safety culture with the understanding that projects are complex systems composed of numerous, heterogeneous and interdependent agents. Methods Complex nuclear industry projects provide a relevant context for studying inter-organisational aspects and their relations to safety culture, since they involve multiple different companies and coordination across organisational boundaries is required to achieve the project objectives safely and efficiently. The method is literature review and case studies carried out in the nuclear industry in Finland. Results The study results in characterisation of inter-organisational dynamics and sources of complexity in nuclear industry projects, and discusses implications for safety culture. Some key aspects refer to fragmentation due to many different stakeholders with own practices and value frameworks, local interactions between agents from various national cultures and subcultures, uncertainty, increased diversity and interdependency. Conclusions The study advances the current understanding of inter-organisational complexity and its implications for safety culture in nuclear industry projects.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalInjury Prevention
    Issue numberA33
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2016
    MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


    • safety culture
    • nuclear industry


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