Psychological safety is an individually held belief that a group is safe for interpersonal risk-taking. Scholars have studied the concept primarily as a team-level construct. However, recent studies suggest that climates of psychological safety exist at the organizational level. An examination of the dynamism of the construct at the organizational level is needed: how it grows, changes, and declines. Startups, which grow and change quickly, are an excellent context to study organizational psychological safety. Through interviews, this study explored psychological safety as an organizational-level construct in startup organizations. Specifically, it examined potential commonalities between high and low psychological safety as reported from participant experience working at startups and identified five dimensions that impact perceptions of psychological safety: Top Executive, Employee Characteristics, Senior Leadership, Business Performance, and Growth. These findings contribute to the nascent area of scholarship on organizational psychological safety and provide practical knowledge to the management of psychological safety.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Organizational behavior; Psychology, Industrial--New business enterprises; Industrial safety--Psychological aspects

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graziadio Business School



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Darren Good