Blame culture

Blame culture
Primary topic
Related topics
Methods and techniques

Blame culture is a set of standards and behaviors in organization that can be characterized as a fear of taking risk or responsibility for mistakes on account of dread of management’s criticism[1].

Blame culture assumes that the consequence of reporting errors may be the loss of good reputation of the person who committed them. This loss of reputation may affect the continued functioning of the individual, the relationship with people at work or even management[2].

Organizations with blame culture are characterized by an individual approach to the error of the employee and an emphasis on blaming employees. In practice, this means that when the error is revealed, the management wants to know who to blame and consequently, to punish or release. Assigning guilt to employees is the easiest way to solve a basic problem because management does not have to try to understand and explain the reasons for the error. It is not conducive to improving safety in the long-term perspective. On the contrary, the employees will be under constant stress while performing the tasks entrusted to them[3].

In the blame culture, there is a tendency to assign responsibility to a specific goal. This is especially evident when there is legal proceedings, because an individual person or organization must be guilty. Therefore, it is a certain action of an individual or a group of people who are held responsible and at the same time assumes that the person or persons are responsible for their actions[4].

The effect of blame culture[edit]

Blame culture has many negative consequences, such as[5]:

  1. The blame culture and punishment instead of supporting learning from mistakes has resulted in a decrease in reporting on mistakes made, making it impossible for employees to be honest because they do not want to be blamed.
  2. It also causes the duplication of errors that have not been explained, which results in poor quality of the tasks being performed. The entire process adversely affects the functioning of enterprises. Employees are reluctant to take the initiative, for fear of being responsible they prefer not to lean out, they are not willing to do their own tasks, they only wait for orders from management.
  3. It affects the decrease of motivation for the work performed and a general decline in involvement in the work environment. Discouraged from making their own decisions, employees need a specific delegation to their tasks which negatively affects the time of management, which has to delegate each task to each employee separately. Management has no time to do their job. This greatly affects the decrease in efficiency.
  4. Also hiding errors increases damage when the error is hidden, because the lack of any information about errors leads to the repetition of these errors by other people.


  1. Gorini A., Miglioretti M., Pravettoni G., (2012), A new perspective on blame culture: an experimental study], Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, 18.3
  2. Gorini A., Miglioretti M., Pravettoni G., (2012), A new perspective on blame culture: an experimental study, Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice, 18.3
  3. Walton M., (2004), Creating a “no blame” culture: have we got the balance right?, BMJ Quality & Safety, 13.3, 163-164
  4. Catino M., (2009), A Review of Literature: Individual Blame vs. Organizational Function Logics in Accident Analysis, Journal of Contingencies and Crisis Management, 16.1
  5. Catino M., (2009),Blame culture and defensive medicine, Cognition, Technology & Work, 11.4


  • Bond J., (2008), The blame culture—an obstacle to improving safety, „Journal of Chemical Health and Safety“, 15.2
  • Rami U., Gould C., (2016), From a Culture of Blame to an Encouraged Learning from Failure Culture, 4.2, 161-168.

Author: Aleksandra Bizoń