Workplace violence as a strategic organisational risk

  • Richard Edward Diston

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Concern about violence at work has led to many studies over the last few decades, however a solution remains elusive. The literature is dominated by similar perspectives on the issue, all of which focus on violence as an operational issue, rather than as a strategic risk to business aims and therefore a problem of corporate governance. The aim of this research was to understand how violence as a risk area is perceived by professionals working within demonstrably affected sectors throughout their careers, and whether a formal, risk-based framework for its management at organisational level would be perceived as beneficial. Specifically, it sought to examine the perception of violence risk in relation to other risk areas within organisations, identify the risk management models and methods that are currently in use for the management of violence in the workplace, examine the strengths and weaknesses of the current violence risk management approaches and establish to whether a formal risk management model would be seen as desirable by practitioners. A qualitative research methodology was employed, based on semi-structured interviews with 20 management professionals from a range of backgrounds including security, consulting, healthcare, education, training and NGOs. The participants’ accounts suggested that the organisations they had experienced were generally unaware of the behaviour types that constitute violence (with a preoccupation with the physical form only), and therefore did perceive violence as a strategic risk. They did not engage to a great extent with the relevant academic and grey literature, and so awareness of existing models for violence management was limited. Opinions varied on effective countermeasures but tended to support a common theme in the literature that emphasised the importance of appropriate senior management engagement. The findings suggested that there would be support for a formal violence risk management model that addresses the issue as a strategic risk. This research therefore concludes by proposing a new typology for violence that supports practical risk management approaches, together with a formal, specific organisational violence risk management framework
Date of AwardAug 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorAlison Wakefield (Supervisor) & Risto Henrik Aleksander Talas (Supervisor)

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