Date of Conferral
Larry D. Frazier
A troubling trend has developed in the increasing number of commuter rail accidents
causing injuries, fatalities, and safety concerns. The specific problem addressed in this study is that current leadership practices have not achieved success reducing safety violations and rail accidents. The purpose of this qualitative cross-sectional study was to explore the potential influence of perceived leadership styles of 16 frontline rail supervisors and 4 managers on safety management practices within a metro rail system. The conceptual framework was based on Bass's transformational leadership theory and Reason's human error model. The key research question dealt with how leadership style might influence safety management practices. Data collection involved a 45-question, Multifactor Leadership Questionnaire (MLQ) leader form administered to assess perceived leadership styles and a 10-question structured interview conducted to understand participants' attitudes toward safety management practices. MLQ analysis involved comparing results to normative population data. Key MLQ results indicated that participants were inside the ideal frequency ranges for the five transformational scales and outside for the two transactional scales. Coding and thematic analysis was used to identify emergent themes in the experiential data. The analysis indicated that safety management and leadership were primary concerns of participants. Further research on the relationship between transformational leadership models and improved system safety practices is recommended. Transformational leadership models could influence positive social change by improving system safety practices in the transit rail industry.