Threats and securities

Looking at which are behaviours aimed at harming the organisation and its stakeholders


Threats and securities

Roberta Fida

Work and organisational psychology science (WOP) has much insight to offer employers and policy makers regarding the threats and securities facing organisations and our societies. These risks are often amplified in period of turbulence and changes, such as we find ourselves in currently. Working with EAWOP’s small group on counterproductive work behaviour (CWB), we provide evidence of the contribution WOP can make. 

Critically WOP science can help discern those who are likely to engage in counterproductive work behaviour (CWB), which are behaviours aimed at harming the organisation and its stakeholders. In addition to provide evidence-based processes of recruitment and selection, WOP science can also provide new understandings about organisations, situations or procedures that are likely to have raised threat levels. As a result they can be invaluable to organisations with limited resources, helping them to identify key hotspots where they should focus attention. 

WOP science also can make a critical contribution in prevention, helping to identify the factors that could lead “otherwise good” employees not always walking their talk, and engage in CWB without feeling guilty, ashamed or with the need for reparation. It can also inform how to ameliorate situations, and even prevent them, identifying danger areas. Through using this type of insight upstream efforts workplaces can be made safer, reducing the chances of malpractices and wrongdoing and so better protecting both workers and service users. Through these preventative efforts costs to organisations and individuals can be minimised. WOP science has a role to play informing how to prevent the routinising and the spread of misconducts, revealing what punishments could be most effective, and critically how some activities, such as theft or sexual misconduct, are more likely to be repeated. In this way the science can be invaluable in assessing risk levels, and in offering multi-layered approaches that increase safety and ethical behaviours. For example, helping individuals to self-regulate, through social norms that build safety and ethical cultures.  

WOP has a critical contribution to improving detection, identifying why wrongdoing can arise in the first place, such as in response to stress and strain. Work in this area is immensely valuable for evidence-based education and training that both improves perpetrators’ self-regulation, but broader safety cultures by increasing speak up behaviours from those who can observe these activities. It can be used to develop interventions that are more effective, identifying early signs of error or wrongdoing, and so offering early interventions before bad habits become ingrained. 

For example, in the UK health and social care regulators, Professional Standards Authority, commissioned a study to examine over 6500 cases of professionals’ misconduct, including over 17000 transgressions. The report that was produced used WOP science frameworks regarding CWB to increase understanding about what forms of misconduct were occurring and to show how they could better focus their efforts. They described the work as ‘ground breaking’, simplifying the range of misdemeanours for policy makers to focus on. It revealed how some activities couple be confined to one person, while other situations were likely to produce more widespread poor practices. 



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The science behind the EAWOPii "Why do good people do bad things?" threats & securities animation.

Reference list (PDF)

And here is the animation (YouTube)