Bibliometric analysis of safety culture research

Karolien van Nunen*, Jie Li, Genserik Reniers, Koen Ponnet

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

109 Citations (Scopus)


The concept of safety culture is characterised by complexity. On the one hand, the concept is challenging content-wise, and on the other hand, is it a multi-dimensional and cross-disciplinary research domain. In this paper, bibliometric analysis has been applied to the field of safety culture to identify fundamental influences and to obtain a structured overview of the characteristics and the developments in this research domain. In total, 1789 publications published between 1900 and 2015 related to safety culture were identified in Web of Science. The 1789 publications cover 4591 authors, 775 journals, 76 countries or territories, and 1866 institutions. Two main research areas can be distinguished in the domain of safety culture: (1) organisational safety culture and (2) health-care and patient safety culture. The latter research area stands in a dominant position in safety culture research nowadays. Key publications are from Guldenmund (2000) and Sexton et al. (2006). Furthermore, 'Safety Science' is the key journal publishing on safety culture research, and the USA, England and China are the countries that dominate the publication production. It can be concluded that there is much collaborative research in the safety culture domain as multi-authored publications make up about three quarters of all publications. Also, safety culture research is characterised by a wide variety of research themes and multidisciplinarity. Geographical inequality in the publication output is identified as. a point of concern. A movement away from technical aspects towards more human aspects could be detected as a noteworthy change in research focus.

Original languageEnglish
JournalSafety Science
Publication statusPublished - 2017


  • Bibliometric analysis
  • Health-care safety
  • Organisational safety
  • Patient safety
  • Safety culture
  • Scientific knowledge


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