University of Tasmania
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Battlefields of shame' : a socio-analytic study of overtly known workplace transgression

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posted on 2023-05-28, 12:51 authored by Mravlek, SC
This research explores how organisational experience and behaviours are shaped when the culture has been permeated by an overtly known workplace transgression. The purpose is to build knowledge to better understand and deal with the impact of workplace transgressions within organisations. The study is based on a collection of case studies of individual experience of members of an organisation in which an overtly known transgression occurred. The study takes an inductive, exploratory approach using socio-analytic methodology to understanding complex group dynamics. In all cases unacknowledged shame emerged as the overarching theme. This theme centred on anger used to control shame, withdrawal employed to conceal shame, and dissociation to deny shame. The study concludes that shame is a ubiquitous dynamic in the aftermath of an overtly known workplace transgression, and is unrecognisable and fiercely defended against to prevent exposure of organisational and leadership failings. Further those impacts are not only devastating morally, but also psychologically for both the individual and organisation, and that the experience of moral transgression may leave longstanding transmission of shame that is unrecognisable for decades. Critically, organisations need to be receptive to creating awareness of the hidden language of shame; investing time to enable expression of shame and consideration of moral injury, without prejudice. Addressing these issues is crucial for voices to be respectfully heard.


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Copyright 2020 the author

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