This report comprises the findings of CREST funded research into organisational change and insider threat. It outlines the individual, social and organisational factors that over time, can contribute to negative employee perceptions and experiences.
These factors can produce a reduction in an employee’s psychological attachment to, and trust in, their employing organisation which then allows them to undertake Counterproductive Work Behaviour (CWB). CWB concerns action which threatens the effectiveness, or harms the safety of, an employer and its stakeholders.
It can develop from small scale discretions (e.g., time wasting, or knowledge hiding) into serious insider threat activities (e.g., destroying systems or exchanging confidential information with malicious others).
Following past research linking CWB to both organisational change and trust breach, the aim of the study was to produce a (dis)trust based framework for predicting, identifying and mitigating counterproductive work behaviour and insider threat within the context of organisational change.
We posed the following research questions:
- What effect does organisational change have in relation to counterproductive work behaviour (CWB) and insider threat acts?
- What role does (dis)trust play in CWB during organisational change?
- What preventative measures can be taken by organisations to help mitigate CWB and insider threat in organisational change initiatives?
To address these questions, we collected empirical data from a case study organisation undergoing change: two sets of interviews, i.) with selected managers and staff outlining the key changes in the organisation, ii.) with a range of stakeholders involved in/privy to one of three insider threat case studies in two different departments, iii.) a review of HR and security paperwork on the insider threat cases, and then, iv.) anonymous surveys of the workforce in the same two departments in which our case studies occurred. Using these methods, we explored individuals’ cognitions and emotions to understand why while some employees remain engaged, loyal and trusting during change, others become disengaged, distrusting and behave in deviant ways.