Date of Award

Fall 2016

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Psychology and Behavioral Sciences

First Advisor

Mitzi Desselles


Organizational climate refers to the shared meaning organizational members attach to the events, policies, practices, and procedures they experience as well as to the behaviors they see being rewarded, supported, and expected (Schneider, Ehrhart, & Macey, 2011). Climate scholars have most frequently used referent-shift consensus and dispersion composition models (Chan, 1998) to conceptualize and measure organizational climate. Based on these models, climate emergence has been characterized by low variance or high consensus of individual-level climate perceptions (Chan, 1998; Ehrhart, Schneider, & Macey, 2013; Hazy & Ashley, 2011; Kuenzi & Schminke, 2009) within formally defined organizational groups (e.g., work teams).

Climate scholars have begun to acknowledge these approaches may not offer adequate explanations for organizational-level perceptual variance patterns that could result from socially-derived influences such as demographic attribute similarity. Perceptual variance may instead be better explained by a patterned emergence compilation model (Fulmer & Ostroff, 2015), whereby nonuniform patterns of dispersion assume that skewness and/or multiple modes exist within the climate of an organization. Ostroff and Fulmer (2014) and Fulmer and Ostroff (2015) have proposed that configural measurement techniques such as latent class cluster analysis (LCCA; Nylund, Asparouhov, & Muthén, 2007) be used to identify subgroups of employees who perceive the organization similarly (i.e., subclimates). LCCA addresses the problems inherent in identifying subclimates via traditional composition models and measurement approaches, but has yet to be used for this purpose. To address this gap, this exploratory study examined whether an organization may be usefully classified into subclimates, based on similarity of response patterns across safety climate dimensions. Subclimates were conceptualized as latent, unobserved groups characterized by systematic response patterns that exhibit within-group agreement and between-group differentiation, using LCCA to reveal five latent groups. Each distinct subclimate was subsequently examined for meaningful differences between them on profile characteristics and demographic attributes.