Behind the Stigma Shield: Frontline Employees’ Emotional Response to Organizational Event Stigma at Work and at Home

Sanne Frandsen*, Mette Morsing

*Corresponding author af dette arbejde

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We investigate how frontline employees manage their emotional experiences of organizational event stigma as an implication of organizational wrongdoing. Our research is based on a longitudinal case study of Danske Bank, which was involved in a money laundering scandal of historical magnitude. We evoke Goffman’s epistemological understanding of stigma as arising in social interactions in all aspects of life. We analyze the emotionally straining spillover effects of stigmatization at home, as event stigma blurs individuals’ work–home boundaries. Our study shows how frontline employees develop a “stigma shield,” that is, emotional detachment strategies used at work and home to protect against the negative implications of event stigmatization and maintain their organizational pride and loyalty. Interestingly, we find that the stigma shield enables identity protection rather than identity restructuring in response to the identity threat posed by the scandal. We contribute to the literature on organizational event stigma and identity threat by offering a theoretical lens focusing on individual-level emotional responses to “felt” stigmatization among frontline employees in an organization facing scandal.
TidsskriftJournal of Management Studies
Antal sider37
StatusUdgivet - 15 jul. 2021

Bibliografisk note

Epub ahead of print. Published online: 15 July 2021.


  • Organizational stigma
  • Event stigma
  • Identity threat
  • Emotional repsonses
  • At work / at home
  • Frontline employees