Bad apples? Bad barrels? Or bad cellars? Why ‘good' workers do bad things

Friday November 8th 2019
Rankine Building Lecture Theatre 107

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Free + £0.00 fees


Professor Rosalind Searle (University of Glasgow) & Dr Charis Rice (Coventry University)

About the event: 

This Festival of Social Sciences event showcases three pieces of funded research (Professional Standards Authority, CREST) that look at wrongdoing in organisations carried out by ‘insiders’. We will explore real-life cases where employees stole; failed to obey the rules thereby endangering the system; or sexually assaulted other staff or service users.

Through our studies we consider three different categories of wrongdoing. The most widely examined to date is ‘bad apples’. We demonstrate how these individuals can access an organisation through poor selection controls and then operate through lax systems and processes, underpinned by the apathy of other staff.

Next, we will reveal the role of ‘bad barrels’ which focuses on the role of social learning where others become corrupted through exposure to these individuals. We draw on insights from insider threat and sexual harassment cases to show how impoverished team climates can be created and maintained, with a specific role for leaders. We show how organisational change can be an important trigger for these events, reducing employees’ psychological attachment to their employing organisation.

Finally, we consider ‘bad cellars’ to show how workplaces can create a toxic culture of incivility. Drawing from work looking at sexual harassment in organisations, we show how results from wider staff surveys analysis can identify hot spots for abuse. We find that workplaces with long working hours, high reports of discrimination and high levels of bullying and harassment can degenerate into contexts for sexual abuse. In contrast, we show that workplaces that have better staff communication and high levels of diversity training are less likely to be contexts of abuse.

The event will feature two short animations and the practitioner toolkits that we have developed to help organisations to reduce and prevent wrongdoing and threat. 

Where to find the research:

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Starts: Friday, November 8th 2019 at 10:00am
Ends: Friday, November 8th 2019 at 12:00pm

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Timezone: Europe/London
Bookings close: November 6th 2019


Rankine Building Lecture Theatre 107
Rankine Building, University of Glasgow
79-85 Oakfield Ave

G12 8LT
United Kingdom

Contact details

This event is organized by Adam Smith Business School.

Telephone 0141 330 1944
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