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Threats and securities

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

Threats and securities: Image

Threats and securities


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. 

Threats and securities

Resources | Threats and securities

good apple logo

“Why do good people do bad things?”

In June 2021, EAWOPii hosted a Threats and Securities webinar where it launched a new animation, held four short talks and a practitioners panel, using work psychological science to see how employee-based threats arise.

Is it bad apples, stressed apples or learning apples? 

Watch the animation in multiple languages, on our YouTube channel, to find out more.

Reference list (PDF)


Webinar | Human Security Psychology

Thursday 27 April 2023

19:00 – 20:30 hrs BST

An interactive webinar launching a short animation and open access paper

Adam Smith institute

The EAWOP impact incubator and the University of Glasgow’s Adam Smith Business School, in partnership with EPIC in Massey NZ, are pleased to announce the launch of a five-minute animation about human security psychology. 


An animation and new open access paper showing how psychology can contribute to policy

The invasion of Ukraine and climate change have made salient the critical issue of human security, a subject which psychology has been concerned with since its inception as a modern and evolving discipline.


This webinar marks the launch of a new animation and open access journal article that shows how psychology can contribute to policy. It also marks the significance of work on policy on refugees and migrants.

The new animation provides an initial conceptualisation of human security as a broad security concept that encompasses a range of interrelated dimensions that have been responded to by different sub-disciplinary domains within psychology. 


On our YouTube channel you can listen and watch Massey University’s Prof Darrin Hodgetts and Dr Veronica Hopner discuss their new paper “Human Security Psychology: A Linking Construct for an Eclectic Discipline” which you can access.


It includes interactive sessions with leading scholars and activists, those with lived experiences and an international audience of interested stakeholders.

See the full agenda and speakers on the panel discussion, pictured below.

View the webinar and the animation on our YouTube channel.

Professor Ute-Christine Klehe
Malcolm MacLachlan
Dr. Jelena Zikic

Taking care podcast
episode 1, 2023


Rosalind Searle | January 2023


The Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency is the national organisation responsible for implementing the National Registration and Accreditation Scheme across Australia.

“One of the most fundamental things is about trying to understand that a harmed person is a fragile person."

The first Taking care podcast episode of the year is with international guest Prof Rosalind Searle. 

Her research has examined trust in healthcare, specifically the matter of professional misconduct. She has examined in detail proven cases of sexual misconduct and abuse to reveal the moral mindsets that accompany these activities.

Speaking with host Susan Biggar, Prof Searle unpacks the areas where trust can be built – and eroded.

Genuine compassion and clear communication are the key to maintaining the public trust. 


Building trust is fundamental to safe healthcare, as is responding effectively when a practitioner breaches that core responsibility to a patient.

Managing the complaint process in that context is especially challenging.

"One of the most fundamental things is about trying to understand that a harmed person is a fragile person," Prof Searle said.

"That whole process can be hugely daunting to people and little human touches of care and respect really make a difference in navigating that space. Even when there is enough trust in a regulator or authority to report harm, that trust is tested when complaints are mishandled, or the process takes too long.

"We are effectively asking people to hold open that trauma and sometimes that can be months, or years. Particularly if they have lost a loved one, or suffered some kind of really major trauma, that is really hard for them.

"I know the work that you have been doing in Australia has been really stellar in terms of putting support staff (around notifiers), and many of our regulators have support staff there to help people through those experiences."

There is also the practitioner experience. Prof Searle’s research has found different ways practitioners rationalise their bad behaviour and responsibilities.

"We are finding evidence that there is a difference in different types of professions about how they excuse their behaviour in terms of their responsibility," she said.

"We are finding that when it’s nurses they are often saying 'Oh, it’s people above me that are making me do this'. Whereas doctors can’t get away in the same with that, so often they are defusing it 'Oh, this is what the culture is like in this space.'"

Denial is another reaction, particularly when the behaviour is especially serious, for example sexual misconduct, Prof Searle found.

Prof Searle has also shared valuable insights on how to maintain that trust and improve the culture of healthcare. 

For practitioners, employers, and educators, instilling those values and having respectful conversations begins at the start of their career, she said. 

"We can look at who is coming through the profession right at the start, because sometimes there are clues there in how that person as a trainee behaves that raise concerns."

"It is also creating a workplace that supports it. Sexual misconduct, for example, is more likely to occur when staff are overworked, and culture does not stamp out staff bullying."

Genuine compassion and clear communication are the key to maintaining the public trust.


Listen to the full episode now.

EJWOP call

EJWOP’s call extended for special issue on
preventing counterproductive work behaviour

3 faces of profs

Special issue editors pictured above:


Deanne N. Den Hartog

University of Amsterdam Business School

Email: Twitter: @DeanneDenHartog


Roberta Fida

Norwich Business School, University of East Anglia

Email: Twitter: @RobertaFida


Rosalind Searle

Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow

Email: Twitter: @ProfSearle

The European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology has extended the deadline for its special issue on preventing Counterproductive Work Behaviour to 31 January 2023.


Counterproductive and misbehaviour in the workplace is a widespread phenomenon creating serious concerns for organisations across the world. But these behaviours are not the prerogative of ruthless and unprincipled individuals.


While recent research has identified key social and psychological processes that explain the engagement and routinisation of counterproductive work behaviour, less is known about the processes, practices and conditions that might deter, prevent or ameliorate such processes.


The European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology has extended the deadline for its special issue on preventing Counterproductive Work Behaviour to 31 January.


The special issue aims to advance knowledge about these prevention processes at micro, meso, and macro levels that can mitigate and avert the enactment but also the routinisation of counterproductive work behaviour. 


We are welcoming papers which make a substantial contribution to understanding how to prevent misbehaviour at work. Interested authors should submit a brief abstract of their intended submission to offer feedback about the potential fit with the special issue and suggestions for potentially improving the fit and scope of the intended study.


Submission deadline: January 31st, 2023

glass broken
Why people engage in counterproductive work behaviour and what can prevent this?
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