Appraising Organizational Scandal as Threat or Opportunity: Self-concept and Strain of Frontline Employees

Open Access
Krannitz, Morgan Ashley
Graduate Program:
Master of Science
Document Type:
Master Thesis
Date of Defense:
July 23, 2013
Committee Members:
  • Alicia Grandey, Thesis Advisor
  • Karen Gasper, Thesis Advisor
  • Songqi Liu, Thesis Advisor
  • Melvin Michael Mark, Thesis Advisor
  • threat appraisals
  • opportunity appraisals
  • core self-evaluations
  • organizational identification
  • burnout
  • turnover intention
Organizational scandals are unique workplace stressors in that they are more acute, atypical, and public than common workplace stressors, such as heavy workload or role ambiguity. While organizational scandals are often related to negative consequences for employees and the overall organization, it is likely that individual appraisals of a scandal will be especially influential on strain outcomes. Using a sample of 165 university fundraisers, the present study examines the relationship between scandal appraisals (job threat and opportunity) and strain (burnout and turnover intention) following the Penn State sex abuse scandal of November 2011. In addition to basic appraisal ideas that threat appraisals and opportunity appraisals are related to different levels of strain, I draw on identity theory and the conservation of resources (COR) model to examine how two aspects of self-concept serve as potential moderators of these relationships: core self-evaluations (CSE), which were found to play a limited role in the scandal appraisal–strain relationship by enhancing the effect of opportunity appraisals on burnout, and organizational identification, which did not moderate any of the relationships. Additional exploratory analyses revealed that although employees could appraise the scandal as both a threat and an opportunity, such dual appraisals did not have a unique effect on strain above and beyond any direct effects. Implications of these findings and avenues for future research are discussed.