School of Education


Doctor of Philosophy in Education (PhD)


Alexandra Barnett


aviation safety, safety management systems, voluntary reporting programs, safety culture, organizational culture, dialogue, error reporting




The purpose of this qualitative, revelatory, embedded case study was to understand the barriers to cultural progression aviation leaders experience within airlines based in the United States. The study was guided by the research question: What can be learned about the barriers hindering the progression of safety culture within the aviation industry? The research design used a single embedded case study model utilizing participants responsible for managing, participating in, and designing programs and policies associated with an organization's safety management system. The study's theoretical framework was the cognitive dissonance theory and the dialogue-supported organizational learning theory. Data was collected utilizing document reviews of safety policies and procedures, reviewing voluntary reporting program data, one-on-one interviews, and focus groups. Purposeful sampling was used to interview organizational and educational leaders on-site, and snowball sampling was used to select end-users for participation in focus groups. Once the interview and focus group data were transcribed, the data was entered into MAXQDA. Coding was applied to uncover descriptive and interpretive codes to develop emerging themes. Triangulation from multiple sources of evidence, pattern matching, and member checking was used to enhance construct validity. Finally, recommendations are provided so that future aviation educators and organizational leaders may benefit from the study.

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