Table of Contents

Research Companion to the Dysfunctional Workplace

Research Companion to the Dysfunctional Workplace

Management Challenges and Symptoms

New Horizons in Management series

Edited by Janice Langan-Fox, Cary L. Cooper and Richard J. Klimoski

A work exposing and exploring the phenomena of the dysfunctional workplace is long overdue. This fascinating book does just that, uncovering the subversiveness, counter-productive behaviour and unspoken ‘issues’ that managers struggle with on a daily basis.

Chapter 25: ‘Dysfunctional’ Subcultures in Organizations: Threat or a Key to Enhancing Change?

Roy J. Lewicki, David Greenberger and Erin Coyne

Subjects: business and management, diversity and management, human resource management, organisational behaviour


Roy J. Lewicki, David Greenberger and Erin Coyne Children are taught to recognize right versus wrong and good versus evil at the earliest age (Stillwell et al., 2000). Not only do they learn these dichotomies and their importance, but they are also trained to recognize the most obvious cues associated with them. Even the smallest delay in identifying evil, they are told, has the potential to lead one in the wrong direction. So, it is not sufficient for everyone just to know right versus wrong; everyone must be on guard for the first signs or cues of evil – so that we can keep our distance from it. Because this is so ingrained in us as children, it is not surprising that most individuals, as adults, similarly are primed to identify cues that are associated with evil, to generalize from these cues, and then look either to eliminate or to put distance between themselves and this evil. With the risks associated with evil, only a few cues are required to initiate a set of responses; real evil is not necessary. In other words, as individuals mature, it is often the proxies of evil to which individuals react. However, the cues themselves that serve as these proxies are, at least in hindsight, often not sinister or actually harmful. For example, having others disagree and appear to be different can lead to labeling and stereotyping. Whether it is the Salem Witch Trials in the late 1600s or McCarthyism in 1950s, the...

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