Innovation and traffic safety: analysis of four Norwegian county authorities




innovation culture, safety culture, traffic safety innovations


This study examines the relationships between traffic safety innovations, innovation culture, and safety culture in four Norwegian county authorities three years after a comprehensive structural reform. Following the reform, the county authorities had to establish new organisations, routines, and systems. The study is based on qualitative interviews (N = 42) and a quantitative survey (n = 392) among people who work with traffic safety and/or mobility in the county authorities. The qualitative results show in particular that the respondents have gained new perspectives on traffic safety as a result of being co-organised with new professional groups. Additionally, we see examples of new methods and new forms of collaboration in traffic safety being implemented. The survey results show statistically significant differences between the county authorities' scores on an index for traffic safety innovations. County authorities' scores on this index is predicted by the county authorities' innovation culture, which in turn is predicted by safety culture. This indicates that innovation culture should be understood as an aspect of a learning safety culture. We find statistically significant differences between county authorities with respect to how demanding the organizational changes related to the regional reform have been for the county authorities studied. The results from this study can also be useful for change processes in other organisations.


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Author Biographies

Tor-Olav Nævestad, Institute of Transport Economics, Norway

Tor-Olav Nævestad heads the research group ‘Safety and Resilience’ at the Institute of Transport Economics in Oslo, Norway. He has been working on projects related to safety culture, safety management and regulation among companies and authorities in the transport sector and in high-risk sectors. One of the key themes in his research has been to develop an understanding of how the safety culture concept can be applied to private and professional road users, and how this understanding can be used to develop measures aiming to improve road safety. Tor-Olav Nævestad also conducts research on resilience and disaster risk management.

CRediT contribution: Conceptualization, Formal analysis, Funding acquisition, Investigation, Methodology, Project administration, Writing—original draft.

Vibeke Milch, Institute of Transport Economics, Norway

Vibeke Milch is a psychologist and a senior researcher at the Institute of Transport Economics in Oslo, Norway. She is a member of the research group 'Safety and Resilience'. Milch has been involved in several research projects on safety management and resilience, in the transport sector as well as in the oil and gas sectors. A major theme in her research concerns safety in multi-actor collaborations, and how inter-organizational mechanisms influence safety management and resilience.

CRediT contribution: Conceptualization, Methodology, Writing—original draft.

Jenny Blom, Institute of Transport Economics, Norway

Jenny Blom is part of the 'Safety, Security, and Resilience' research group at The Institute of Transport Economics in Norway, specializes in national and organizational safety culture, safety management, road safety policies, and traffic education. Her research primary evolves around heavy vehicle and bus companies, studying how organizational safety culture, management practices, and working conditions impact professional drivers' behavior and accident involvement. Additionally, she studies how framework conditions and national road safety culture influences road safety behaviors. Her research extends to organizational learning, economic driving, and education of both experienced and novice drivers.

CRediT contribution: Conceptualization, Methodology, Writing—original draft.

Rune Elvik, Institute of Transport Economics, Norway

Rune Elvik has been a road safety researcher at the Institute of Transport Economics since 1980. His main areas of research have been evaluation studies, meta-analysis and cost-benefit analysis. Rune Elvik served as editor-in-chief (together with Karl Kim) of Accident Analysis & Prevention from 2005 to 2013. He has participated in many European projects and contributed to the Highway Safety Manual. He has published more than 150 papers in scientific journals.

CRediT contribution: Conceptualization, Methodology, Writing—original draft.

Markus Bugge, University of Oslo, Norway

Markus Bugge is an associate professor at the TIK Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture at the University of Oslo. He is also senior researcher at Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU). He holds a PhD from the Department of Social and Economic Geography at Uppsala University, and has extensive experience from research on innovation and innovation policies across private and public sectors.

CRediT contribution: Conceptualization, Methodology, Writing—original draft.

Håkon Endresen Normann, Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Norway

Håkon Endresen Normann is a Senior Researcher at Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education (NIFU). He has a PhD in innovation studies and worked during his PhD and postdoc on topics of industrial diversification, politics of transitions, just transitions and deliberate decline.

CRediT contribution: Conceptualization, Methodology, Writing—original draft.

Erland Skogli, Menon Business Economics, Norway

Erland Skogli is partner at the Norwegian analysis company Menon Economics, where he leads the innovation in public sector-practice. He holds a master in innovation studies from the University of Oslo and Maastricht, and a master in economics from EDHEC, France. Erland has worked as researcher in STEP, Studies in Innovation and Economic Policy, and has more than 25 years of experience from studies of innovation in the public sector.

CRediT contribution: Conceptualization, Methodology, Writing—original draft.

Lars Even Egner, Institute of Transport Economics, Norway

Lars Even Egner is part of the research group ‘Safety and Resilience’ at the Institute of Transport Economics in Oslo, Norway. He has worked on a wide variety of topics related to human behaviour and cognition, including but not limited to traffic safety, energy retrofitting, psychometrics, and restorative psychology. This has given a wide variety of methodological tools to apply to new research questions. His current research interests revolve around the human-vehicles interaction, and how various human cognitive limitations manifest in traffic safety.

CRediT contribution: Methodology, Writing—original draft.


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How to Cite

Nævestad, T.-O., Milch, V., Blom, J., Elvik, R., Bugge, M., Endresen Normann, H., … Egner, L. E. (2024). Innovation and traffic safety: analysis of four Norwegian county authorities. Traffic Safety Research, 5, 000038.

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