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A grounded theory of a sense of not belonging in the workplace and implications for self-concept

Waller, L. (2019) A grounded theory of a sense of not belonging in the workplace and implications for self-concept. PhD thesis, University of Reading

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Abstract/Summary

Research suggests that a need to belong is a fundamental human need, motivating a wealth of behaviour, and that thwarting of this need has powerful consequences for emotion and self-esteem. As a place where we spend a lot of time, the workplace is increasingly central to a sense of belonging, and as such, a sense of not belonging (SoNB) in the workplace might have important implications for our psychological well-being. The aim of this Grounded Theory study was to develop an understanding of the emotional, cognitive and behavioural processes involved in a SoNB in the workplace. In-depth interviews with 12 participants exploring their experiences of a SoNB revealed a theoretical framework. This framework constituted the key attributes and moderators of the phenomenon, participant’s emotional experiences, and the cognitive and behavioural strategies employed to resolve the experience. It also identified a potential process through which the experience occurs. Core to this phenomenon was self-concept, the meaning participants attributed of having the experience to their sense of self. SoNB was found to undermine self-efficacy and self-esteem, as well as undermine a consistent and coherent self-concept through the conflict that emerged between who individuals thought they were, versus who they became during the experience. The study makes a unique contribution to knowledge by providing an understanding of the subjective, lived experience of a sense of not belonging in the workplace that reveals the centrality of the self-concept. It offers a holistic, comprehensive synthesis of findings from previous research which has explored individual aspects of the experience, and presents a substantive theory of a sense of not belonging in the workplace. Recommendations for future research, particularly in terms of exploring the proposed relationships are made, as well as recommendations for application of the findings in practice.

Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Thesis Supervisor:Riddell, P. and Harvey, K.
Thesis/Report Department:School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences
Identification Number/DOI:
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences
ID Code:84816

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