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Social Undermining in the Workplace

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Abstract

An interactive model of social undermining and social support in the workplace was developed and tested among police officers in the Republic of Slovenia. As predicted, social undermining was significantly associated with employee outcomes, in most cases more strongly than was social support. High levels of undermining and support from the same source were associated with negative outcomes. However, support from one source appeared to only modestly attenuate the negative effects of social undermining from another source.
... Our research rests on the assumption that leaders are not always perceived as consistent (e.g., Herr et al., 2019;Lee et al., 2018;Nielsen et al., 2019). We believe that variations in behaviors could be perceived by followers as inconsistent leadership, which can result in negative consequences for followers (e.g., Duffy et al., 2002;Hobman et al., 2009;Mullen et al., 2018;Nahum-Shani et al., 2014). We propose that this occurs because, in line with uncertainty management theory (Lind and van den Bos, 2002), followers find uncertainty in their social relationships difficult and aversive. ...
... Both cross-sectional and longitudinal studies demonstrate that when leaders enact positive leadership behaviors (e.g., ethical leadership, transformational leadership, LMX, and supportive leadership) along with aggressive leader actions (e.g., abusive supervision, undermining, incivility, and despotic leadership; Duffy et al., 2002;Naseer et al., 2016) there is a negative impact on followers' outcomes such as physiological and psychological well-being, job performance, counterproductive work behaviors and safety participation (e.g., Herr et al., 2019;Mullen et al., 2018;Nahum-Shani et al., 2014). Inconsistencies in the level of fair interpersonal treatment enacted by the leader (i.e., oscillating between treating followers with respect and disrespect) has negative health outcomes for employees and for work groups, reflected in less pride in the group and fewer cooperative behaviors (Matta et al., 2017(Matta et al., , 2020. ...
... outcomes include reduced self-efficacy and organizational commitment, increased counterproductive work behaviors and somatic complaints (Duffy et al., 2002), anxiety and decreased psychological well-being (Hobman et al., 2009), lowered need satisfaction and heightened organizational deviance (Lian et al., 2012), reduced job performance, organizational citizenship behaviors and creativity (Naseer et al., 2016), and diminished safety participation (Mullen et al., 2018). Our central assumption is that when followers perceive inconsistencies in their leaders' behaviors, they will experience ambivalence toward leaders, which affects reactions to their leaders, and their own well-being. ...
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Leadership research has a long and impressive history of identifying how followers are affected by their leaders. The vast majority of this research has addressed one leadership “style” at a time, reinforcing the idea that leaders are consistent in their behaviors despite emerging evidence to the contrary. Drawing on uncertainty management theory, the ambivalence literature, and empirical evidence, we propose that followers’ perceptions of inconsistent leadership results in ambivalence towards leaders, which in turn affects followers’ workplace attitudes and well-being. Across two studies using different methodologies (randomized experimental study, survey), we find support for a conditional indirect effect in which leaders’ inconsistent behaviors predict an array of follower outcomes through the mediating effect of followers’ subjective ambivalence. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
... For example, the quality of daily communication, satisfaction with the technologies used and digital literacy level, are all likely to have an impact on the satisfaction with the telework experience (Raišienė et al., 2020;Shockley et al., 2021). With reduced workplace relationships, feedback, and face-to-face contact, employees are likely to feel less satisfied (Baumeister & Leary, 2017;Duffy et al., 2002). ...
... Similarly, Jung et al. (2021) showed the negative effect of workplace loneliness on organizational commitment. With a reduced sense of belonging that comes with greater professional isolation, individuals are likely to feel less committed to their organization (Duffy et al., 2002). ...
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Background The COVID-19 pandemic has abruptly and profoundly changed the way people interact with their organization, their colleagues and their supervisor. Objective This study assesses the effects of telework-induced professional isolation due to the pandemic. Drawing on organizational support theory, this study examines the relationship between professional isolation and satisfaction with the telework experience and affective organizational commitment during mandatory teleworking caused by the COVID-19 crisis. It does so by focusing on the moderating role of perceived organizational and supervisor support in these relations. Methods Data was collected via self-reported survey questionnaires from 728 pandemic teleworkers from various industry sectors in Quebec during the COVID-19 crisis. The study's hypotheses were tested using structural equation modeling (SEM), and moderation effects were probed with the Johnson-Neyman technique. Results The results reveal that professional isolation negatively affects satisfaction with the telework experience, but does not affect affective organizational commitment. The relationship between satisfaction with telework and professional isolation was moderated by perceived organizational support, and the relationship between affective organizational commitment and professional isolation was moderated by perceived supervisor support. Conclusion This study expands the organizational support theory by examining perceived organizational and supervisor support during a crisis as a counterbalance to a challenging social and organizational climate that has led to professional isolation. The implications of the findings as well as future directions for research on professional isolation and telework are discussed.
... Meanwhile, the relevance of workplace gossip to the functioning of organizations and their members has been amply documented (Beersma and Kleef 2012;Beersma, Kleef, and Dijkstra 2019;Michelson et al. 2010;Mills 2010;Sun et al. 2022). Despite its negative connotation and much research addressing its dysfunctional aspects (Danzinger 1988;Duffy et al. 2002;Liu et al. 2020;Martinescu et al. 2021;Ribeiro and Blakeley 1995;Robinson and Bennett 1995), gossip also has multiple positive outcomes for individuals and groups (Brady et al. 2017;Giardini and Wittek 2019a;Wilson 2005, 2010;Noon and Delbridge 1993). ...
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Gossip is a pervasive phenomenon in organizations causing many individuals to have second-hand information about their colleagues. However, whether it is used to inform friendship choices (i.e., friendship creation, friendship maintenance, friendship discontinuation) is not that evident. This paper articulates and empirically tests a complex contagion model to explain how gossip, through its reputational effects, can affect the evolution of friendship ties. We argue that hearing gossip from more than a single sender (and about several targets) impacts receivers’ friendships with the gossip targets. Hypotheses are tested in a two-wave sociometric panel study among 148 employees in a Dutch childcare organization. Stochastic actor-oriented models reveal positive gossip favors receiver-target friendships, whereas negative gossip inhibits them. We also find evidence supporting that, for damaging relationships, negative gossip needs to originate in more than a single sender. Positive gossip about a high number of targets discourages friendships with colleagues in general, while negative gossip about many targets produces diverging trends. Overall, the study demonstrates that second-hand information influences the evolution of expressive relations. It also underscores the need to refine and extend current theorizing concerning the multiple (and potentially competing) psychological mechanisms causing some of the observed effects.
... In addition, previous studies have focused on analyzing the simple mediation process in the relationship between abusive leadership and organizational performance. For example, abusive behavior of leaders was found to hurt job satisfaction [11] and organizational commitment [30], and increase turnover intention [11], deviant behavior [31], and stress [32]. These past studies have lacked a more logical and detailed explanation of the causal relationship between abusive supervision and creative performance [8][9][10]. ...
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Many previous studies on creativity have focused on discovering positive factors to improve creativity and innovation performance from leader, individual, and organizational perspectives. However, research on factors that hinder creative performance was relatively insufficient. This study examines leaders’ behavior that hinders employees’ creative performance by focusing on abusive supervision. Based on the Korean employee context, our research model draws upon constructs of abusive supervision, relational conflict, employee silence, and creative performance to hypothesize serial mediation mechanisms connecting abusive supervision to creative performance. Using survey data of 555 Korean employees, we find that abusive supervision is negatively related to creative performance. We also find that both relational conflict and employee silence mediate the relationship between abusive supervision and employee creative performance. More importantly, our empirical analysis indicates that a serial mediation effect testing a dual coordination effect was identified in the process of the leader’s abusive supervision leading to employee’s creative performance. Although many previous studies were focused on a single medium effect in the relationship between leadership types and employee creativity, this study applied the serial mediation effects in the relationship to test a dual medium effect. We further addressed a more complex process to explain the path of reducing creative performance by supervisor abusive supervision. We conclude by discussing both theoretical and practical implications.
... Prior empirical studies have revealed that workers may behave unethically to promote self-interest [36,37], the group [38], their family ( [39], or in the name of the organization [18,40]. Unethical behaviour might contain following practices: (1) obstruct others' abilities to improve employees' personal relationships, reputations, and job success [41]; (2) employees' voluntary practices and behaviours contradict the organization standards and values and in so doing threaten the organization image [42]; and (3) out of an offender's envy, pursue retaliation against a colleague [43]. Accordingly, the following hypothesis is suggested as shown in Figure 1: Hypothesis 1 (H1). ...
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The economic disaster precipitated by the pandemic of COVID-19 changed people’s perceptions of ordinary job stability and elevated it to an ultimate high level. To avoid being laid off, employees who are concerned about job stability may engage in unethical activities in the name of their employer. In this study, the influence of job instability on unethical organizational behaviour (UOB) was investigated through the mediating role of family financial pressure and distributive injustice. Perceptions of 830 employees working in hotels (5-star and 4-star) and travel agencies (Category A) were explored and further analyzed using structural equation modelling. The results asserted that family financial pressure and distributive injustice partially mediated the effects of job insecurity on UOB. Important insights on theoretical and practical implications were further deliberated towards the end of this study.
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Bu araştırma, Sosyal karşılaştırma teorisine dayanan Sosyal Zayıflatma (Social Undermining) Ölçeği’nin Türkçeye çeviri ve uyarlamasını kapsamaktadır. Duffy, Ganster & Pagon, (2002) tarafından geliştirilen Sosyal Zayıflatma (Social Undermining) Ölçeği yöneticiler tarafından zayıflatma ve iş arkadaşları tarafından zayıflatma olmak üzere iki boyutla ölçülmektedir. Söz konusu ölçeğin her bir boyutunda 13 madde olup toplam 26 maddede oluşmaktadır. Araştırmanın örneklemi 650 çalışandan anket yöntemiyle toplanan verilerden oluşmaktadır. Ölçek varyans yapısı ve kovaryans ilişkileri dikkate alınarak yapı geçerliliği ve eş zaman geçerliliği ile test edilmiştir. Güvenilirlik için soruların iç tutarlılık testleri yapılmış ayrıca ölçeğin cinsiyet açısından farksızlığı hesaplanmıştır. Yapılan tüm analizler sonucunda ölçeğin geçerli ve güvenilir olduğuna ilişkin yeterli kanıtlara ulaşılmıştır. Bu çerçevede özenle ve uluslararası çeviri aşamaları dikkate alınarak yapılmış bu çalışmanın Türkçe dilinde yapılan çalışmalar için kullanılması uygundur.
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In this study, the mediating role of job stress in the effect of abusive managerial behavior on mental and physical health problems was investigated. Our research, on which the Conservation of Resources Theory (COR) is based, has been evaluated in the light of the findings obtained from 401 law enforcement personnel working in 56 provinces of Turkey where the power distance between subordinates and superiors is high. In the findings of our study, it was found that abusive behaviors by superiors had a mediating effect between subordinates' job stress and physical and mental health problems. In this direction, our study contributes to the literature on the health problems caused by continuous exposure to abusive behavior in employees.
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The academic literature on unethical leadership is witnessing an upward trend, perhaps given the magnitude of unethical conduct in organisations, which is manifested in increasing corporate fraud and scandals in the contemporary business landscape. Despite a recent increase, scholarly interest in this area has, by and large, remained scant due to the proliferation of concepts that are often and mistakenly considered interchangeable. Nevertheless, scholarly investigation in this field of inquiry has picked up the pace, which warrants a critical appraisal of the extant research on unethical leadership. To this end, the current study systematically reviews the existing body of work on unethical leadership and offers a robust and multi-level understanding of the academic developments in this field. We organised the studies according to various themes focused on antecedents, outcomes and boundary conditions. In addition, we advance a multi-level conceptualisation of unethical leadership, which incorporates macro, meso and micro perspectives and, thus, provide a nuanced understanding of this phenomenon. The study also explicates critical knowledge gaps in the literature that could broaden the horizon of unethical leadership research. On the basis of these knowledge gaps, we develop potential research models that are well grounded in theory and capture the genesis of unethical leadership under our multi-level framework. Scholars and practitioners will find this study useful in understanding the occurrence, consequences and potential strategies to circumvent the negative effects of unethical leadership.
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Manager stewardship behavior, defined as an ethical initiative whereby managers subjugate their personal interests to protect their organization’s long-term welfare, has been widely considered beneficial for organizations and subordinates. However, is manager stewardship behavior also viewed as good in the eyes of peers? This research examines peer reactions to manager stewardship behavior. Drawing on person perception theory, we expect that a peer may credit and support manager stewardship behavior or stigmatize and undermine it depending on his or her attributions (organizational concern versus impression management). Study 1 (a vignette experiment: n = 200) found that manager stewardship behavior is related to credit evaluation by a peer and subsequently increases peer support and decreases peer undermining when attributed to organizational concern motives; however, it is related to stigma evaluation by a peer and subsequently increases peer undermining and decreases peer support when attributed to impression management motives. Study 2 (n = 221) replicated the results of Study 1 using a field survey design. These findings expand our understanding of the implications of stewardship behavior from a peer perspective and offer insight for managers into how to engage in stewardship behavior wisely.
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Salaried professionals may exhibit organizational deviance when faced with conflict resulting from their mutual role as professional and employee. Some of this behavior may be directly harmful to both the individual and the organization, whereas some may constitute adaptive maladjustments. An earlier study proposed that these deviant behaviors could be organized into Guttman scales. In this article, three such scales were tested for underlying unidimensionality and cumulativeness using scalogram analysis. Not only was the practice of organizational deviance, although not widespread, confirmed, but the scales survived the parameters of the Guttman procedure. A replication of the scales produced sufficient validation for their further development and usage.