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

Sanne Frandsen*, Mette Morsing

*Corresponding author for this work

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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.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Management Studies
Issue number8
Pages (from-to)1987-2023
Number of pages37
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2022

Bibliographical note

Published online: 15 July 2021.


  • Organization stigma
  • Event stigma
  • Identity stigma
  • Emotional responses
  • At work / at home
  • Frontline employees

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