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Managing aggression in organizations: what leaders must know

Bradley John Olson (University of Lethbridge, Lethbridge, Canada)
Debra L. Nelson (Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA)
Satyanarayana Parayitam (McNeese State University, Lake Charles, Louisiana, USA)

Leadership & Organization Development Journal

ISSN: 0143-7739

Article publication date: 1 July 2006




The paper aims to incorporate a sensemaking framework that augments research on organizational justice and aggression.


Sensemaking is used as a basis for designing an aggression model. Organizational justice and attribution theory are key components of sensemaking triggers. In addition, the model includes both organizational and personal influences on the sensemaking process. Finally, information processing theory provides explanations as to the importance of retrospect in sensemaking.


The sensemaking framework: presents the workplace antecedents of the sensemaking process; specifies the sensemaking triggers that provoke aggressive responses; identifies the individual and organizational factors that affect both the sensemaking triggers and the link between triggers and aggressive behaviors; and incorporates a full range of aggressive behaviors (e.g. violence, verbal abuse, or refusal to return telephone calls) that occur in organizations.

Practical implications

The paper proposes that by taking a sensemaking perspective, leaders can understand and proactively manage aggressive behavior in the workplace.


This paper provides a comprehensive aggression model that can assist both researchers and practitioners regarding the sensemaking process and its role in workplace aggression.



Olson, B.J., Nelson, D.L. and Parayitam, S. (2006), "Managing aggression in organizations: what leaders must know", Leadership & Organization Development Journal, Vol. 27 No. 5, pp. 384-398.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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