Trust and High Control: An exploratory study of Counterproductive Work Behaviour in a high security organization

Rosalind Searle, Charis Rice

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Downloads (Pure)


High security organizations utilize a fine balance between control and trust to maintain stability. Drawing on qualitative interviews with managers and employees concerning three Counterproductive Work Behaviour (CWB) incidents occurring within a “high control” organization, we explore the impact of this trust-control dynamic on individuals’ sensemaking, social relations and workplace behaviours. We explore Human Resource Management (HRM) control practices, contrasting levels of control (over and under-control), form (formal and informal), and consistency of control management, that variously destabilize the balance of trust and control. Framed by this dynamic, employees undertake CWB as a means of maintaining their trusting relationships, professional goals and well-being in an unpredictable workplace. We demonstrate the value of understanding the trust-control dynamic for CWB and identify potential lessons for prevention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)(In-Press)
Number of pages11
JournalEuropean Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology
Early online date25 Apr 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Apr 2024

Bibliographical note

© 2024 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The terms on which this article has been published allow the posting of the Accepted Manuscript in a repository by the author(s) or with their consent


This research was funded by the Centre for Research and Evidence on Security Threats (ESRC Award: ES/N009614/1), which is funded in part by the UK security and intelligence agencies (see the public grant decision here:


  • Counterproductive Work Behaviour
  • Trust
  • Control
  • Human Resource Management
  • Prevention


  • Security and Resilience


Dive into the research topics of 'Trust and High Control: An exploratory study of Counterproductive Work Behaviour in a high security organization'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this