Corporate security culture
: an exploration of corporate aviation security culture through the lens of senior management – a socio-technical approach

  • Erik Lerche

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis examines how fostering a corporate security culture can help aviation organisations manage the increased complexity in the aviation industry and the resulting threats and risks. A corporate security culture is commonly understood as a general mindset encompassing technical, procedural and operational aspects. Security concerns, combined with a reluctance to consider the big picture and a socio-technical system’s perspective, may damage an organisation's financial position, strategic position, and reputation. The aim of this thesis is to formulate a comprehensive corporate security culture, explore and identify its influencing factors, enabling aviation organisations to adapt their security management accordingly. Initially, this thesis outlines the security environment in aviation, considering several approaches to assess corporate security. Based on this overview, key elements of corporate security culture are identified and brought together in a tentative, aviation-specific corporate security culture model.
To test and develop this tentative model, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 15 industry experts from one organisation. These experts were part of the management team, fulfilling various business functions across the organisation. A review of the interviews revealed three major themes, or golden rules, that brought together the empirical findings: raising awareness of potential threats, adhering to rules and guidelines, and an active acceptance of responsibility by employees. These three golden rules subsumed ten main rules and forty sub-rules which can be understood as external influences. In addition, the thesis evaluated all internal factors affecting the assessment of a corporate security culture in terms of their relevance. The study showed that nearly all internal factors identified in the literature are essential in assessing corporate security culture. In addition, several external influences were identified which have not been examined in the existing literature, but which represent a critical theoretical and practical contribution to the aviation corporate security culture model. These external influences are the trends in aviation, the acknowledgement of rules and guidelines and individual experiences.
In a final step, the thesis applied system dynamics theory to develop the tentative aviation corporate security culture model to identify which elements of the model can have the most influence on security culture.
Date of AwardMay 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorSara Hadleigh-Dunn (Supervisor)

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