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The Psychology of Fear in Organizations

The Psychology of Fear in Organizations

How to Transform Anxiety into Well-being, Productivity and Innovation

Sheila Keegan

From £16.66

Understand fear, rife in many organizations, so you can redirect it to provide energy for a new wave of business innovation and growth.

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About the book

In the context of global economic recession, fear has become institutionalized in many organizations, both in the private and public sectors. Board directors are under pressure from shareholders, senior executives are attempting to maintain sales in a nervous market and many people are concerned about job security and maintaining their living standards. The Psychology of Fear in Organizations shows how fear manifests itself in large organizations, how it impacts on the workforce and how by reducing our willingness to take risks and to innovate, it can inhibit economic growth and innovation, at both an individual and corporate level.

The Psychology of Fear in Organizations examines the psychological barriers to innovation and presents initiatives to loosen the paralysis caused by the economic downturn. It presents psychological theory in an accessible way to provide a better understanding of the needs and fears of people and how they can be supported to improve productivity and innovation. Online supporting resources include lecture slides on how to harness fear to fuel innovation.

Table Of Contents

  • Section - ONE: The nature of fear and how it shapes organizations;
    • Chapter - 01: The paradox of fear;
    • Chapter - 02: The cultural backdrop of fear;
    • Chapter - 03: Perspectives on fear;
    • Chapter - 04: Cultures of fear within organizations;
    • Chapter - 05: Feeling fear at work;
    • Chapter - 06: Over-control and manipulation in the workplace;
    • Chapter - 07: Organizations in crisis;
  • Section - TWO: How we can harness fear to improve productivity and organizational health through promoting human values;
    • Chapter - 08: Being human;
    • Chapter - 09: Creating psychologically healthy workplaces;
    • Chapter - 10: Leadership and appreciative inquiry;
    • Chapter - 11: Developing resilience;
    • Chapter - 12: Building trust within organizations;
    • Chapter - 13: The power of language;
    • Chapter - 14: Building a culture of innovation;
    • Chapter - 15: What about the future?


Whatever the root of fear at the workplace, high-quality leadership - which sees employees as humans, trusts them to be professional and empowers them - seems to be necessary to ensure that such fear does not compromise innovation and productivity. I hope that leaders of academic/corporate organizations read this book and ponder about the environments they are creating at the workplace.
Professor Ranjini Swamy, Goa Institute of Management

This book should be read by everyone who has anything to do with managing organizations. It is soundly based in history, the literature and personal experience. Keegan not only describes and explains the increase of fear in organizations but also suggests how to reduce it so that everyone can be happier and more productive.
Emeritus Professor Malcolm Harper, Cranfield University

Sheila Keegan provides a wide-ranging and incisive treatment of this very taboo subject. She questions many current organization practices, including goal setting, and shows how these can easily result in fear and dysfunctional performance. The practice approaches she provides for reducing fear in organizations will provide real value to managers and HR professionals alike.
Michael Wellin, Chartered Psychologist, and Director at Business Transformation consultants

This book is an interesting read and during the course of my engagement I learnt some great information and many interesting facts. The book is split into two sections the first part of the book sets the scene and introduces the reader to the relationship that both the body and the brain have with fear, it further iterates how that manifests itself in the workplace or how a workplace environment can induce the state of fear either by its organisational structure or by the leadership within.

There is a great chapter around the Hawthorne experiments with a useful reference which I will be following up on and thoughts around groupthink and how it can create a collaborative way of thinking be this positive or negative.

The second half of the book revolves around how to utilise this source of energy and further covers the areas around appreciative enquiry, trust and the power of language; though during these chapters the topic of fear was digressed it eventually reverts back to the original subject matter.

Ultimately this translates into utilising fear as a positive force rather than a negative, and positivity is always a worth sought desire in the wellbeing to life.

4 stars: Strong, strongly recommended for managers and leaders for want to review the type of organisation they manage.

Robert Orton, Information and Content Developer, Chartered Institute of Marketing

this book is a must read for all who feel the need for a good dose of civilised decency and scholarship to be brought to what many people see as the grubby world of commerce....This is a great little book, full of wisdom on a longstanding problem...
Malcolm McDonald, Cranfield University, for the International Journal of Market Research

strongly recommended for managers and leaders wanting to review the type of organisation they manage.
Philip Clarke, Chartered Management Institute book reviewer


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Book Details

  • EAN: 9780749472542
  • Edition: 1
  • Published: 3rd February 2015
  • Paperback
  • Format: 235x156
  • 288 pages

About the Author

Dr Sheila Keegan is a Chartered Psychologist and has a doctorate in organizational change. In 1983, she co-founded Campbell Keegan Ltd, a business psychology consultancy working in the private and public sectors. An organizational consultant and qualitative researcher for more than 25 years, she helps clients in the private and public sectors to make better decisions in the areas of business strategy, social policy and organizational change management. She is a Fellow of the Market Research Society and an Associate Fellow of the British Psychological Society.

Sheila Keegan

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