NWO Veni project on “Aggression against public employees”

Summary of research proposal

Aggression against public employees is a growing concern. Public employees, such as social workers and teachers, are confronted with aggressive citizens. This ranges from yelling and death threats to physical attacks.

Facing aggressive citizens can have serious ramifications for public service workers including increased burnout, increased absenteeism and reduced wellbeing. However, to date, most scholars have focused on aggression among colleagues or of supervisors towards employees. Despite the current attention in the media, citizens’ aggression towards public service workers has received far less scholarly focus, and the field has been described as “underdeveloped” and “neglected”.

We  aim to fill this gap by systematically analysing the impact of citizen aggression on public service workers. I will adopt an interdisciplinary approach: combining insights from public administration and psychology.

Current projects

Meta-analysis on effects of citizen aggression towards public service workers. With dr. Peter Kruyen, PhD-student Maurits van Leeuwen and PhD-student Christa de Geus. Submitted.

Completed projects

Overview of workplace aggression literature

Tummers, L., Brunetto, Y., & Teo, S. T. (2015). Workplace aggression: Introduction to the special issue and future research directions for scholars. International Journal of Public Sector Management29(1).

Coping & improving safety climate

Tummers, L. (2016). The Relationship Between Coping and Job PerformanceJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory27(1), 150-162.

Bronkhorst, B., Tummers, L. & Steijn, B. (2018). Improving safety climate and behavior through a multifaceted intervention: Results from a field experiment. Safety Science, 103, 293-304.

Van Leeuwen, M. Reducing Negative Citizen Behaviour: Testing a three-dimensional integrated intervention strategy using a randomised quasi-field experiment. Master thesis Utrecht University.

De Vries, H., Tummers, L., & Bekkers, V. (2019). The diffusion and adoption of public sector innovations: a meta-synthesis of the literature. Perspectives on Public Management and Governance.

Van Engen, N.A.M., Steijn, A.J., & Tummers, L.G. (2019). Do consistent government policies lead to greater meaningfulness and legitimacy on the frontline? Public Administration.

Behavioral Public Administration

Voorberg, W.; Jilke, S.; Tummers, L.G.; Bekkers, V.J.J.M. )(2018). Financial rewards do not stimulate co-production: Evidence from two experiments, Public Administration Review.

Jilke, S. & Tummers, L. (2017). Which Clients are Deserving of Help? A Theoretical Model and Experimental TestJournal of Public Administration Research and Theory, 27(1):150-162.

de Vries, H., Tummers, L., & Bekkers, V. (2019). The benefits of teleworking in the public sector: Reality or rhetoric?Review of Public Personnel Administration, 0734371X18760124.

Grimmelikhuijsen, S., Jilke, S., Olsen, A. L., & Tummers, L. (2017). Behavioral public administration: Combining insights from public administration and psychologyPublic Administration Review77(1), 45-56.

Media in Dutch






More information

Want to know more information about this project or are you interested in participating? Please email L.G.Tummers@uu.nl.

This research is supported by a grant from the Netherlands organization for scientific research: NWO-VENI-451-14-004, entitled “He threatened to kill me! Public service workers coping with citizen aggression”.

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