Publication Date

July 1994


Corporate transformations are being implemented by many organizations, however, successes are remarkably rare. This paper suggests that a contributing factor might be the ineffective use of fear in employee communications. Rather than reducing fear, companies can enhance the transformation process by harnessing fear to quickly change behavior.

Protection motivation theory has been applied by marketing researchers to suggest that fear appeals containing strong threats and information on coping strategies can be successful in changing behavior. Human resource managers can be instrumental in designing effective communications that incorporate fear-inducing messages and information on coping strategies.


Suggested Citation
Welbourne, T. M. (1994). Fear: A misunderstood component of organizational transformation (CAHRS Working Paper #94-11). Ithaca, NY: Cornell University, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies.