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Why Organizational Leaders Need to Care About Hazing

Updated: Oct 11, 2019

Hazing Presents Organizational and Human Capital Issues

It happens each time a hazing incident makes the news.  There is outrage from opponents of hazing on one side.  On the other side, there are justifications, explanations, and even victim-blaming from some of the most vocal proponents.  More than a week ago, a jury convicted Dante Martin of manslaughter for his participation in hazing that led to the death of Florida A&M University Drum Major Robert Champion.  There were four other defendants charged with manslaughter with one already sentenced to jail time and the others awaiting trial.  Although hazing is most associated with fraternal/sororal organizations, it occurs in various organizational types including high schools.  Just this week, a judge decided that seven high school football players who attend Sayreville High School in New Jersey will be tried as juveniles for their alleged participation in hazing.  These allegations led to canceling the High School’s participation in the remaining football season.

So why should organizational leaders care about a topic like hazing?

Hazing is important to organizational leaders because it is an organizational and human capital issue that can have a huge impact on organizations and the general public (Holmes, 2011).  For example, Florida A&M University’s president and band director were fired from their respective positions and five members of Sayreville High School’s football coaching staff have been suspended following their respective hazing incidences.  One can imagine the strategy and supervision disruption this can cause organizations including the additional money that will need to be spent on recruiting and training replacements, lost productivity time, and any legal and financial liabilities the organization may face.  Hazing cases can even threaten a university’s or college’s accreditation, which if revoked can have catastrophic effects on the administrators, faculty members, staff, and most importantly, students who are enrolled in those educational institutions.  In an effort to mitigate incidences of hazing on their campus, Dartmouth faculty members recently voted to dismantle the Greek fraternity and sorority system at the school.  In the political sphere, Ashley Miller was running as a candidate for the 32nd legislative district in Kentucky.  Her campaign was recently derailed when she was fined and suspended by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. for her participation in hazing activities.  These are just a few examples of how organizational leaders may have to deal with the human capital issues that may present themselves when employees either engage in hazing or fail to provide adequate supervision to prevent it from occurring.  Additionally, there are potentially numerous challenges that criminal charges and records may present job applicants, employees, and organizations.  For example, some careers require professional licensure so employees can lose their professional credentials if they subsequently obtain a criminal record and job candidates can be prevented from seeking professional licensure if they already have a criminal record.  These threats are sufficient for organizational leaders to include a discussion during the socialization and onboarding process to explain how deviant behaviors committed by employees outside of work not only can affect their employment options within the organization, but also can present serious ramifications for the overall organization as well. 

Click here to see a timeline of fraternity and sorority misconduct in 2015.

*Dr. Holmes can be reached on Twitter @OHIV.


Holmes IV, O. (2011). Hazing and pledging in Alpha Phi Alpha: An organizational behavior perspective. In G. S. Parks & S. M. Bradley (Eds.), Alpha Phi Alpha: A Legacy of Greatness, The Demands of Transcendence. Lexington, KY: University Press of Kentucky. 

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