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On the nature, consequences and remedies of workplace incivility: No time for "nice"? Think again

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Incivility. or employees' lack of regard for one another, is costly to organizations in subtle and pervasive ways. Although uncivil behaviors occur commonly, many organizations fail to recognize them, few understand their harmful effects, and most managers and executives are ill-equipped to deal with them. Over the past eight years, as we have learned about this phenomenon through interviews, focus groups, questionnaires, experiments, and executive forums with more than 2,400 people across the U.S. and Canada, we have found that incivility causes its targets, witnesses, and additional stakeholders to act in ways that erode organizational values and deplete organizational resources. Because of their experiences of workplace incivility, employees decrease work effort, time on the job, productivity, and performance. Where incivility is not curtailed, job satisfaction and organizational loyalty diminish as well. Some employees leave their jobs solely because of the impact of this subtle form of deviance. Most of these consequences occur without organizational awareness. In addition to detailing the nature of incivility and its consequences, we provide keys to recognizing and dealing with habitual instigators, and remedies that are being used effectively by organizations to curtail and correct employee-to-employee incivility.
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On the nature, consequences
and remedies of workplace
incivility: No time for “nice”?
Think again
Christine M. Pearson and Christine L. Porath
Executive Overview
Incivility, or employees’ lack of regard for one another, is costly to organizations in
subtle and pervasive ways. Although uncivil behaviors occur commonly, many
organizations fail to recognize them, few understand their harmful effects, and most
managers and executives are ill-equipped to deal with them. Over the past eight years,
as we have learned about this phenomenon through interviews, focus groups,
questionnaires, experiments, and executive forums with more than 2,400 people across the
U.S. and Canada, we have found that incivility causes its targets, witnesses, and
additional stakeholders to act in ways that erode organizational values and deplete
organizational resources. Because of their experiences of workplace incivility, employees
decrease work effort, time on the job, productivity, and performance. Where incivility is
not curtailed, job satisfaction and organizational loyalty diminish as well. Some
employees leave their jobs solely because of the impact of this subtle form of deviance.
Most of these consequences occur without organizational awareness. In addition to
detailing the nature of incivility and its consequences, we provide keys to recognizing
and dealing with habitual instigators, and remedies that are being used effectively by
organizations to curtail and correct employee-to-employee incivility.
........................................................................................................................................................................
Public polls suggest that incivility is on the rise. In
a recent survey of more than 2,000 respondents,
nearly four out of five believe that lack of respect
and courtesy is a serious problem; three out of five
believe that it is getting worse.
1
Within the work-
place, a substantial percentage of employees see
themselves as targets of such rudeness .
2
When we
polled nearly 800 employees in the U.S., 10 percent
reported witnessing incivility daily within their
workplaces and 20 percent said that they, person-
ally, were the direct targets of incivility at work at
least once per week (for further details about the
research underlying this article, please see the
Appendix). In another study that we conducted
with 126 Canadian white-collar employees, one-
fourth reported witnessing incivility daily and one-
half said that they were the direct targets of inci-
vility at least once per week.
3
Some experts suggest that the complexity of fast-
paced, high-tech, global interactions feeds incivil-
ity because people believe that they don’t have the
time to be “nice,” that impersonal modes of contact
do not require courtesies of interaction, and that
differences in cultural norms foster miscommuni-
cation that can imply rudeness. Others contend
that today’s casual workplaces may increase inci-
vility because they leave fewer cues for appropri-
ate interpersonal behavior. It has been suggested
elsewhere that new forms of psychological con-
tracts and a “me first” attitude may erode civility
as enduring mutual commitments and requisite
forms of respect wane.
4
For some, incivility has become a regular occur-
rence at work, whether they witness it, experience
it first-hand, or perpetrate it. Examples abound, as
reflected by our qualitative data: a boss rebukes
his subordinate for wasting paperclips in front of
half a dozen colleagues; a salesperson makes sar-
Academy of Management Executive, 2005, Vol. 19, No. 1
........................................................................................................................................................................
7
castic remarks about another employee in front of
a customer; or when asked for extra help, a recep-
tionist refuses flatly, suggesting that she deserves
to spend the rest of the afternoon reading her Peo-
ple magazine. As for attempting to confront these
types of circumstances, some employees have told
us that they would be laughed out of the office. As
a result, we have found that some employees ac-
cept or ignore the incivilities, some collude with
them, and others perpetuate them.
Some organizational scientists consider the
prevalence and costs of workplace deviance
among the most serious dilemmas facing organi-
zations today.
5
For some versions of deviance, like
sexual harassment, employees are trained to rec-
ognize and deal with them, organizations have
policies and mechanisms to address them, and
laws back them up. But there is another kind of
harassment that occurs regularly in many organi-
zations as employees display lack of regard for
others in violation of workplace norms for mutual
respect, with or without conscious intent. This form
of workplace deviance is not illegal, many compa-
nies fail to recognize it, and most managers are ill
equipped to deal with it. It is called incivility and
it is defined as low intensity deviant behavior that
violates workplace norms for mutual respect and
may or may not be intended to harm the target.
6
Low intensity connotes verbal rather than physi-
cal, passive rather than active, and indirect rather
than direct.
7
For those managers and executives who believe
that the effects of intraorganizational incivility are
inconsequential, we recommend logging the
amount of time spent resolving conflicts among
workers. For typical Fortune 1000 firms, such activ-
ities may account for as much as 13 percent of their
executives’ time, or nearly seven weeks per year
per executive.
8
Even if managers and executives
are not wasting their time consoling and mediat-
ing, our research shows that incivility corrodes
organizational culture and that employees who are
on the receiving end will respond in ways that are
costly to their organizations. Through question-
naires, interviews, and experimental studies, we
have found that incivility diminishes individuals’
productivity, performance, motivation, creativity,
and helping behaviors. The sting of incivility has
emotional and behavioral impact on its targets, as
well as those who witness, hear about or initiate it
as the spillover erodes values and depletes re-
sources.
For the past eight years, we (with Lynne Anders-
son at Temple University, and Judith Wegner at
UNC) have studied the uncivil experiences of more
than 2,400 workers, managers and executives in
the U.S. and Canada who represent organizations
in all industrial classifications, ranging in size
from two to more than 100,000 employees (please
see Appendix for further details). Through our on-
going research with executives, managers, and
employees, we have sought to reflect and encom-
pass the subtle contexts and challenges of incivil-
ity, and to establish the nature of organizational,
group, and individual costs, as well as to uncover
the best practices used to address the phenome-
non. We have collected data in focus groups, in-
depth interviews, questionnaires, experiments,
and executive forums. The results are clear: inci-
vility is costly to organizations and their members
in subtle but pervasive ways that can include de-
cline in job satisfaction, fading of organizational
loyalty, and loss of leadership impact.
Our goals in this article are to provide insight
about the nature and costs of workplace incivility
and to offer practical approaches that organiza-
tions can adopt in order to curtail and manage the
phenomenon.
Incivility: A Glimpse into Its Nature and
Consequences
The basis for civility is demonstration of respect,
as Stephen Carter has contended in Civility: Man-
ners, Morals and the Etiquette of Democracy.
9
Inci-
vility, by contrast, implies rudeness and disregard
for others in a manner that violates norms for re-
spect. Although organizational research regarding
incivility specifically is still in a preliminary
phase, its roots can be traced to the phenomena of
spiraling interpersonal conflict and escalating ag-
gression. Studies show that low intensity aggres-
sion in the workplace can lead to an upward spiral,
resulting in increased aggression and more pur-
poseful efforts to harm one another.
10
Recent research indicates that incivility is wide-
spread in the workplace. In a study conducted by
Lilia Cortina and her colleagues, nearly three-
fourths of respondents reported experiencing inci-
vility at work at least once in the past five years.
11
In another study, researchers found that more than
half of the front-line workers they surveyed had
experienced forms of incivility at least once in the
previous three years.
12
Within the healthcare pro-
fession, a study of 603 nurses revealed that one-
third had experienced verbal abuse in the previous
five days.
13
It is extremely difficult to pinpoint the costs of
incivility. To the best of our knowledge, the finan-
cial burdens of incivility have never been calcu-
lated either in a specific work setting, or across
organizations. However, because some of the ef-
8 FebruaryAcademy of Management Executive
fects on individual employees are the same, calcu-
lations regarding sexual harassment might make
an interesting starting point for comparison.
Among the Fortune 500, the annual cost of sexual
harassment has been estimated to exceed $6 mil-
lion per company in absenteeism, lost productivity,
and turnover alone.
14
For the purpose of this com-
parison, it is crucial to note that this figure does not
include the great financial burdens of settlement
costs, lawsuits and legal fees, the indirect costs of
a tarnished organizational reputation, or the time
spent managing the situation.
Incivility and sexual harassment have similar
characteristics (and associated costs) in regard to
the loss of target time, productivity, and turnover.
There are many ways in which they differ; some
may actually raise the ante for incivility. Laws do
not exist regarding incivility, so the risk of bring-
ing complaints to the surface is high. As a result,
incivility and its repercussions generally occur
without organizational awareness. Although the
effects of incivility often go unnoticed by the organ-
ization and unreported by the target, they are
rarely unrequited. The means of getting even when
incivility occurs are often enacted covertly, so they
are extremely hard to quantify. Absent the proce-
dures to control sexual harassment that are in
place in most workplaces, incivility is also more
likely to spread. Incivility tends to be more difficult
to detect and curtail than sexual harassment be-
cause it resides in the eyes of the beholder. Al-
though an individual may experience an uncivil
comment or deed as purposefully offensive, the
instigator may deny any negative intent. Instead,
the offender may claim that the target was simply
too sensitive or that his words or behaviors were
meant in jest. These differences may suggest dif-
ferent actions for those seeking to curtail or con-
tain incivility, as we will discuss later.
Despite the prevalence of incivility and its dam-
aging impact, organizational responses are spotty
at best. Some managers ignore incivility because
they do not want to get involved in messy interper-
sonal conflicts; some never hear about the inci-
dents or, if they do, they discount their importance
as so-called personal matters. Others permit or
even reward brutal confrontation among employ-
ees as a key to competitive advantage. But, if rude
words and subtle negative behaviors are over-
looked, they can weigh heavily on targets, their
coworkers, their family and friends, their organiza-
tions, and their customers.
Our research shows that when targets believe
that someone at work has treated them disrespect-
fully, half will lose work time worrying about fu-
ture interactions with the instigator, and half will
contemplate changing jobs to avoid a recurrence.
One-fourth of research respondents who feel that
they have been treated uncivilly will intentionally
cut back their work efforts. A few will steal from
their instigators or their organizations. Some will
sabotage equipment. Most will tell friends, family,
and colleagues about how badly they have been
treated.
15
FIGURE 1
Managing Incivility: What’s a Leader to Do?
2005 9Pearson and Porath
In the worst case, some targets of incivility will
exit. Among survey respondents, one target in
eight left the job to escape a troublesome uncivil
situation.
16
With fully loaded costs of turnover es-
timated at 1.5 to 2.5 times the salary paid for the
job, or $50,000 per exiting employee across all jobs
and industries in the U.S.,
17
the bottom-line effects
of incivility are far from trivial. It is important to
note that departures driven by incivility may fol-
low an incident immediately or they may come
after some time has elapsed. This finding is criti-
cal to managers because, in regard to organiza-
tional memory, a delayed reaction will tend to dis-
associate the exit from the uncivil event.
In the most extreme cases, incivility can lead to
workplace aggression and violence. It is highly
unlikely that a disgruntled ex-employee will return
as a workplace avenger, but experts on workplace
violence caution that treating employees with any-
thing less than respect and dignity at all times
increases the odds of an aggressive response.
18
Key Players: Target, Instigator and Others
When we began our research, we anticipated that
the target of workplace incivility would be some-
one characteristically vulnerable: a newcomer to
the organization, who would probably be young,
female, and in a position of lower status than the
instigator. Only one of these assumptions held
true. Age and tenure differences between target
and instigator are minimal. Also, men are just as
likely to be targets of incivility, although they are
far more likely instigators than women are. Power
plays the central role: a target is much more likely
to be of lower status than the instigator, whether or
not in a direct reporting line.
Some of our most recent research reflects the
instigator’s perspective. We have learned that al-
most everyone admits to behaving disrespectfully
at work. . .occasionally. Virtually everyone we in-
terviewed or surveyed admitted to occasional epi-
sodes of uncivil behavior toward coworkers. Occa-
sionally, employees treat lower-level workers as if
they were invisible, act annoyed when someone
asks for a favor, belittle their bosses behind their
backs, or take colleagues’ contributions for
granted. Once in a while, most individuals disre-
gard their coworkers in supposedly inconsequen-
tial ways. Despite the low intensity of these behav-
iors, however, we have found that they can erode
relationships and detract from organizational out-
comes even when occurrences are rare and fol-
lowed by apologies, rationalizations, or efforts to
make amends. But, the grave danger regarding
incivility lurks in the behaviors of habitual insti-
gators.
In some organizations, a few people seem to
maintain and even accumulate power when be-
having disrespectfully. Those who have taken part
in our research believe that some individuals who
do so regularly are treated differently in their or-
ganizations. In some cases, habitual instigators
seem to be held above reproach despite their dis-
plays of disrespect for others. In the eyes of their
targets, witnesses, and others throughout the orga-
nization, habitual instigators seem to get away
with uncivil incidents because of their special
competencies or their access to organizational
power. In some workplaces, instigators develop
predictable patterned uncivil behaviors. Repeat-
edly, they may be rude to their peers, demean their
subordinates, and lash out at the first employees
who cross their paths when a problem occurs. In
some settings, organizational tolerance for such
incivility can endure throughout an instigator’s ca-
reer, despite widespread awareness of these pat-
terns by the employees working with them.
A repeated theme in interviews and focus groups
that we conducted with managers and executives,
as well as doctors, nurses, attorneys, lawyers,
judges, line workers, first-line supervisors, and
other professionals is inequity. Research partici-
pants note that habitual instigators in their orga-
nizations get away with their uncivil behaviors
without repercussion. An example of a senior-level
habitual instigator drawn from our field observa-
tions illustrates the nature of incivility and its po-
tential impact, as well as the variety of targets that
can be affected directly. Within the course of one
work day, the uncivil professional-level employee:
insulted three administrative support personnel;
reprimanded another for an error that she had not
made; berated a colleague while implying un-
grounded accusations and implicit career threats;
and erroneously admonished another administra-
tor, adding that he would track her down and ruin
her career if she reported his behavior. When a
senior level colleague of the instigator attempted
to come to the targets’ rescue, the instigator threat-
ened physical attack.
In this case, the habitual instigator’s behaviors
escalated from incivility to aggression within sight
or sound of several of his peers. Some shut their
office doors, others later reported that they knew
what was happening but did not want to get in-
volved. Eventually, rather than dealing with the
instigator directly, several of his senior level peers
reported the incivilities to the organization’s
leader. As recourse, the head of the organization
counseled the instigator to be more careful, urging
10 FebruaryAcademy of Management Executive
him to recognize that his continued career ascent
could be stifled by how he treated “the little peo-
ple.” No action was taken by the organization to
acknowledge or address the effects on targets. No
record was made of the inappropriate behaviors.
No standards were set for the instigator’s future
behavior. This example constitutes an extreme co-
incidence of habitual incivility and inept leader-
ship. Often, we find these elements coupled.
Individual Characteristics: Status and Gender
The nature and movement of incivility are affected
by status. Through in-depth interviews, we learned
that those with greater power have more ways to
be uncivil and get away with it. In sum, the uncivil
behaviors of lower level employees are curtailed to
covert omission. They may selectively ignore re-
quests or delay assistance, or they may intention-
ally forget to replenish dwindling resources or co-
vertly sabotage equipment. But, if an instigator’s
job is nearer the top of the organization, there are
more opportunities to be uncivil at will. Examples
of the effect of status differential are present
across our research studies. Greater power allows
people to keep others waiting, disrupt meetings,
speak in condescending words and tone, and in-
terrupt others’ tasks and conversations, seemingly
without repercussion. As we have heard regarding
numerous organizational settings, if the instigator
is a strong enough cog in the organizational ma-
chine, he or she may even get away with staging
public temper tantrums when unhappy.
To make matters worse, top-down incivility can
start a self-reinforcing cycle. If incivility is commit-
ted downward, hierarchical differences can make
the incident seem inconsequential. The instiga-
tor’s higher position may become a protective
shield because his or her words or deeds reinforce
silence. Scarce are the lower status employees
who will risk job and paycheck to tell the more
powerful instigator that he or she has offended
them. As an employee in manufacturing summed it
up for us, “given the difference in our positions,
saying anything wasn’t going to work. He had se-
nior management in his pocket.”
Lest prospective instigators take some bizarre
refuge in the privileges of rank, they, too, should
beware. We have found that even members of the
power elite do not get away with incivility scot-
free. Those with less power tend to retaliate in less
aggressive ways. When in a one-down situation,
rather than blowing the whistle or retaliating di-
rectly, targets who seem to ignore an instigator’s
rudeness may actually be doing what they can to
spoil the individual’s reputation or covertly botch
tasks that are important to the instigator. About a
third of the people who are targets of incivility will
spread rumors about instigators and withhold in-
formation that their offenders may need. Twenty
percent of targets will belittle instigators behind
their backs and delay actions on their requests.
More than one-third of targets will go out of their
way to avoid their instigators, thereby ceasing be-
hind-the-scenes efforts that they might have made
formerly on the instigator’s behalf. Like others in
less powerful predicaments, the lower level tar-
gets of incivility will act in ways mindful of the
ability of the powerful individual to harm the less
powerful person’s career.
19
If the instigator seems too powerful, many tar-
gets will seek retribution by engaging in deviant
behaviors that adversely affect the organization.
They may intentionally decrease the effort, time
and quality that they put into their work, all to the
detriment of the organizational bottom line. Often,
they do these things carefully, in ways that are
undetectable to the organization in the short term.
Taking action against the organization rather than
the instigator may reflect a desire for greater
safety through anonymity, as suggested by Aquino
and his colleagues.
20
While we learned early that the occurrence of
workplace incivility is an equal opportunity of-
fense (that is, we found men as likely as women to
be targets), we wondered how gender might affect
the responses of targets. Abundant literature sug-
gests that men and women experience the work-
place differently. We found that, in many ways,
differences in the responses of men versus women
who perceive themselves as targets of incivility
parallel results of earlier work examining aggres-
sion and power as related to gender.
Tannen and others have contended that men are
more likely to take aggressive stances or attack an
antagonist verbally when they have been insult-
ed.
21
Scholars have long contended that differ-
ences in gendered styles bear heavily on our abil-
ities to access and use power.
22
In a recent study,
Cortina and colleagues found that female attor-
neys who had experienced incivility or unwanted
sexual attention were more likely than their male
colleagues to rely on coping strategies, mobilizing
social support, and turning to social networks.
23
Women explain this behavior by stressing how
much they dislike conflict.
24
Other scholars have
suggested that levels of aggressiveness or pas-
sive-aggressiveness differ between men and
women,
25
and that women have a greater ten-
dency to avoid conflict.
26
Recently, in Disappearing
Acts, Joyce Fletcher has shown that women will
tend to purposefully disappear themselves in re-
2005 11Pearson and Porath
sponse to conflict, rather than take an aggressive
posture. Based on this work, we use the term “dis-
appearing oneself” to connote intentionally remov-
ing oneself from a relationship or contact with
someone, as a means of ceasing mutual engage-
ment and empathy.
27
We learned that when incivility occurs male tar-
gets will be more likely to engage in direct, overt
retribution against their instigators. When the tar-
get is a man, the incivility spiral will grow in
intensity, especially if the instigator is also a man.
In short, male targets of incivility will strive to get
even.
In contrast, when the target is a woman, she will
tend to try to avoid the instigator, or when com-
plete avoidance is not possible, she will attempt to
maintain her distance from the instigator. Also,
female targets will be less likely to spread the
word about the uncivil behavior within the organi-
zation. Rather, women who are targets of incivility
will confide in family and friends outside the or-
ganization. Although women do not tend to re-
spond with overt, immediate payback, the incident
does not necessarily go unrequited. Instead, we
found that female targets will tend to reinforce
their support, regain their balance, and recoup
their strength so that they are ready to take re-
course when the best opportunity arises.
Potential Outcomes: Spirals and Cascades
When incivility occurs, there are three potential
outcomes for the instigator and target: they can
continue to be uncivil to each other through recip-
rocal exchanges, they can escalate the intensity of
the offense, or either party can walk away. If the
choice is escalation, each round of disrespect may
become more dramatic and more aggressive. In
these situations, the initial spewing of uncivil
words or disrespectful acts can escalate into phys-
ical aggression.
To provide an example drawn from our qualita-
tive data, employee A forgets to acknowledge col-
league B’s contributions to a team project. At the
next staff meeting, B takes the opportunity to crit-
icize A’s new project. Later that day, A ignores B’s
email request for information, so B no longer re-
sponds to A’s phone messages. In the most extreme
cases, this tit-for-tat behavior can intensify in suc-
cessive rounds to the point of shouting matches,
veiled threats, or even physical aggression.
Even if the intensity does not build, most targets
will spread the news about what has happened to
them. What begins between two employees spills
over to people who neither took part in the initial
uncivil interaction nor observed it. When people
are treated rudely at work, half of them will tell a
more powerful colleague about what has hap-
pened, but chances are slim that they will report
the situation to anyone in the organization who
has the expertise to deal with it. Many targets of
incivility will share their stories with their peers or
subordinates. Those who hear about the incivility
may search for ways to get even on the target’s
behalf. Just knowing that the incivility occurred
can cause third parties to deplete organizational
resources, whether by withholding assistance from
the instigator, tarnishing the instigator’s reputa-
tion, or spreading the news further by telling ad-
ditional colleagues about what has happened.
When treated disrespectfully at work, 70 percent
of targets vent to family and friends outside the
workplace. Having been treated rudely by the boss
or coworkers, some employees may lash out at
their spouses, humiliate their subordinates, or ar-
gue with their customers.
Organizational Actions: Containing, Correcting
and Curtailing Incivility
According to our data, only one-fourth of targets
were satisfied with the way that their organiza-
tions handled the incivility that they experienced.
With the potential damages of incivility and its
tendency to spread, it is vital to consider how or-
ganizations might curtail disrespect and cultivate
civility. To answer this question, we asked more
than 600 targets about the best-case examples
from their organizational experiences and we con-
ducted field interviews with 54 managers and ex-
ecutives who were successfully attempting to cur-
tail incivility in their organizations, which
represented a variety of industries and were based
in North America. As we looked across the data, we
identified nine practices that address this chal-
lenge. Like many management tenets, they are
simple to articulate but challenging to live by. We
offer the suggestions that follow to those in or-
ganizations who want to contain, correct, and cur-
tail incivility.
1. Set Zero-tolerance Expectations
Executives echo the importance of setting zero-
tolerance expectations regarding employee-to-em-
ployee incivility. They contend that such expecta-
tions must be initiated from the top of the
organization and that they should be repeated reg-
ularly, both verbally and in writing. Stating an
organization-wide expectation of civil interactions
among employees defines a wide-sweeping norm
and sets a baseline against which organizations
12 FebruaryAcademy of Management Executive
can measure and correct behavior. We have found
simple corporate exemplars:
“Treat each other with respect” (from Boeing’s
integrity statement)
“Above all, employees will be provided the
same concern, respect, and caring attitude
within the organization that they are expected to
share externally with every Southwest Cus-
tomer” (from Southwest Airlines’ mission state-
ment).
“We are responsible to our employees. . .We
must respect their dignity” (from the Johnson &
Johnson credo).
“We treat each other with respect and dignity”
(from AT&T’s value statement).
Whereas many organizations create stringent
guidelines about how employees should treat cus-
tomers, fewer seem to articulate how employees
should treat one another. It is worth noting that this
lack of symmetry has the potential to damage mo-
rale and spoil customer service. Dissonance be-
tween customer treatment given and employee
treatment received tends to place a burden
squarely on line-level employees. When such dis-
sonance exists, employees may be expected to
buffer between catering to customers (for whom
organizational guidelines may stipulate superb
treatment) while being targets of their bosses’ in-
civilities (which are generally uninhibited by organ-
izational guidelines). Such incongruence can lead
to higher turnover, poorer customer service, or
both.
28
2. Take an Honest Look in the Mirror
Once the norm has been set, managers and exec-
utives must live by it. A place to start is with
self-examination. As an early diagnostic, execu-
tives in organizations concerned about civility ex-
amine how they and their peers actually behave
toward subordinates and toward one another. To
gain in-depth, candid perspectives, some execu-
tives do this through peer feedback, others video-
tape their meetings for careful evaluation, and
some work with consultants. They take these steps
because they believe that role modeling has no
less impact regarding civility than any other desir-
able organizational characteristic. Their intuitions
are supported by our data: one-fourth of those who
behave uncivilly say that they do so because of
their leader’s uncivil behavior.
3. Weed out Trouble Before It Enters Your
Organization
Executives we polled during a learning forum told
us that the easiest way to foster and reinforce
civility is to hire civil employees. We know from
the studies that we have conducted that habitual
instigators tend to leave discernible trails of dis-
respectful behaviors, and that employee consen-
sus in identifying repeat offenders can be strong.
Those who chronically spew incivility tend to be
known throughout their departments and often by
subordinates and colleagues across their organi-
zations. Despite this trend, however, our qualita-
tive studies suggest that instigators are often
passed around like organizational hot potatoes,
with each manager hoping to eliminate the prob-
lem (instigator) by handing it off to another depart-
ment’s management.
To avoid hiring instigators, job candidates’ ref-
erences should be checked thoroughly, especially
when the candidate will have significant organi-
zational stature. When a search firm has been
used to identify candidates, it should not be the
sole source entrusted to check references of final
candidates. Similarly, a reference check should not
be limited to the list of contacts provided by the job
candidate. Rather, those within the firm who are
involved in the candidate selection process should
be encouraged to talk with personal contacts at
various organizational levels with whom the can-
didate has worked. Although this connection may
sound tenuous, relevant professional and personal
contacts within and across industries can gener-
ally be made with a small amount of extra effort.
Those who lead companies that take incivility se-
riously tell us that they find it a worthwhile invest-
ment to thoroughly screen references so that they
can avoid hiring habitual instigators.
4. Teach Civility
Whereas training for sexual harassment is infor-
mation-based in clarifying legal definitions,
boundaries, and obligations, training for civility is
skill-based. In some cases, improving individual
competencies such as conflict resolution, negotia-
tion, dealing with difficult people, stress manage-
ment, listening, and coaching can curtail incivility.
Expectations regarding these skills should be tied
to performance and career advancement. Expertise
developed through such skills can yield additional
positive impact in enhanced day-to-day dealings
with coworkers and customers, as well as im-
proved performance.
29
When we gathered data
from the instigator’s perspective, we found that
2005 13Pearson and Porath
one-fourth of the instigators we surveyed blame
their uncivil behavior on lack of training. Also,
many instigators claim that they behave badly
because they are under too much stress and do not
have time to be “nice.” Performance-based skills
training can help to alleviate these pressures, too.
5. Put Your Ear to the Ground and Listen
Carefully
Curtailing incivility may be the ultimate rationale
for 360-degree feedback. By soliciting anonymous
bottom-up input, managers and executives can
build candid perspectives about instigators and
detect patterns of incivility to root out repeat of-
fenders and keep instigators from turning civil em-
ployees uncivil. We know from qualitative and
quantitative studies that instigators who are dis-
respectful to their subordinates or peers are often
seen as experts at managing upward. They may
take great care in controlling their uncivil behavior
so that it dodges the attention of those who have
the organizational power to correct it. Managers
who are concerned about incivility should seek
feedback about employee-to-employee interac-
tions and clear the path for problems to surface,
whether through human relations channels or
through open door policies. When reports of insti-
gators’ uncivil acts do not match their positive
experiences of an employee, those in charge
should withhold judgment, gathering additional
information from lower levels of the organization
to assure that savvy instigators are not feigning a
positive image to a superior that those below
would never recognize.
6. When Incivility Occurs, Hammer It
Incivility ignored can fester. Incivility condoned
can spawn additional incivility, whether by the
original instigator (who believes that he or she is
getting away with it) or by others (who watch the
instigator get away with it). Even at lowest levels
of the organization, incivility should be dealt with
swiftly before it has time to spiral or cascade. Ex-
ecutives should not tolerate destructive behavior,
even when it comes from the organization’s power
elite because it can create an association between
power and incivility: employees who witness inci-
vility that occurs without repercussions may begin
to see such behavior as a way to get ahead in their
organizational settings.
Sly instigators must be corrected despite their
power or special skills. This may be particularly
challenging because uncivil behavior tends to oc-
cur privately between instigator and target. Often,
the incivility occurs within sight or earshot only of
individuals with little or no power to curtail the
instigator. Executives must recognize that it takes
courage for a less powerful employee to come forth
and expose an uncivil situation that involves a
higher status individual. This leads to our next
recommendation.
7. Heed Warning Signals
Incivility thrives in environments where input from
employees is squelched. Managers and leaders
must weigh targets’ claims carefully if they want
individuals to continue to report incidents. When
employees learn that no one will bother to inves-
tigate, correct, or curtail the problem, they soon
recognize that by speaking up they may actually
increase the risk of repercussions from the instiga-
tor. A pattern emerged from our qualitative data:
hopelessness about the prospects of any remedial
action being taken combines with fear of repercus-
sion from a more powerful instigator, outweighing
the courage needed to voice the problem. The per-
vasiveness of this cycle of silence is supported by
contextual data captured in our research finding:
54 percent of employees surveyed told us that, in
their organizations, they would be likely to have
career problems if they reported incivility.
8. Don’t Make Excuses for Powerful Instigators
Uncivil behavior can become endemic to organiza-
tions where it is overlooked. When we held an
executive forum regarding incivility, a leading rec-
ommendation from participants was that leaders
must confront all instigators, even those with spe-
cial talents, with accurate critical feedback and
hold them accountable for their actions despite
their clout. Also, managers must be held account-
able for dealing with the instigators who report to
them. Despite temptation to the contrary, effective
leaders cannot look the other way, nor accept a
supervisor’s rationale that “that’s just how Joe is.”
After all, the instigator has obstructed interper-
sonal relationships and violated company values.
Behavior should be documented and appropriate
disciplinary action taken. Leaders may need to
terminate habitual offenders. Above all, instiga-
tors should not be relocated because this can re-
sult in infesting other areas of the organization.
The practice of relocation, however, is not un-
common. For example, consider the situation de-
scribed by a human resources executive of an in-
14 FebruaryAcademy of Management Executive
ternational airline. A habitually uncivil employee
had some skills that were highly valued by the
organization, but his ongoing incivility offended
targets, infuriated departmental colleagues, and
stalled productivity. In fact, some of his associates
even requested transfers or exited the organization
because of the instigator’s rudeness. Ultimately,
department morale slipped deeply enough that the
uncivil employee was transferred. His boss did not
want to fire him, so he moved him. In his new
environment, the instigator continued to create the
same negative pattern and tarnish another depart-
ment. Instead of containing the problem, the air-
line actually proliferated it.
9. Invest in Post-departure Interviews
For every eight employees who see themselves as
the targets of incivility, one is likely to exit. To
complicate matters, most of those who leave be-
cause of incivility will not report the real reason
that they are exiting. Some do not tell because they
think that the organization does not care; others
are afraid they will sound weak if they complain.
Many have reported that they remain silent be-
cause they believe that, in their organizations, the
potential for negative repercussions outweighs the
hope of any corrective action.
To further complicate the situation, when incivil-
ity is the reason for departure, the signals are hard
to recognize. Most employees do not storm out in a
huff immediately following an incident. Rather,
targets of incivility have told us that they tend to
remain in their jobs for months, a year, or longer,
working with less effort and enthusiasm while lin-
ing up new positions in other organizations.
30
After
all, they have done nothing wrong and can take
their time securing an optimal new job. Given this
time gap between the incivility and the target’s
departure, any organizational memory that might
have connected the event to the exit fades. As a
result, this dramatic impact of incivility tends to
leave no discernible trail. Nonetheless, facts
known by departing employees are crucial to
correcting incivility. To track potential incivility,
organizations should conduct post-departure in-
terviews with former employees after those em-
ployees have distanced themselves from the orga-
nization and they are stable in their new work
environments. The cost of doing so is minimal, and
if the organization is serious about rooting out
incivility, the insight gained through candid dis-
closures can be invaluable.
A Case in Point
The phenomenon of workplace incivility has not
yet received widespread organizational attention,
and exemplary organizational practices to curtail
incivility may elude some organizations. To illus-
trate the approaches described above, we offer a
case example of an actual international pharma-
ceutical company (which we will call “Global Drug
Co.” or GDC). We believe that this organization
stands as an exemplar in implementing practices
that can be useful to managers and executives
who wish to curtail or reduce incivility within their
organization.
Before anyone is hired into GDC at any level, a
thorough background check is conducted. This pro-
cess includes getting in touch with personal con-
tacts (of GDC employees) across the industry who
may know or know of the applicant. These discus-
sions are intentionally informal, but the specific
intent is to learn how others have experienced the
candidate as a colleague.
Once hired, regardless of hierarchical level, ev-
ery new employee of GDC must attend corporate
orientation regarding organizational values, in-
cluding organizational expectations about em-
ployee interactions. Specifically, people at GDC
are told that they are expected to treat one another
with respect. Trainers, corporate leaders, and the
new hires’ immediate bosses communicate this
value repeatedly. Also, while employed by GDC,
employees at all levels receive training that fos-
ters civil employee interactions such as managing
interpersonal dynamics, working in teams, conflict
resolution, and negotiation.
From orientation onward, GDC employees are
assured that if they have been treated uncivilly,
their situation will be assessed fairly by a GDC
third party review board. If GDC employees be-
have uncivilly, after investigations are made, they
are warned to change their behaviors during per-
sonal counseling by their direct supervisor and a
GDC human relations specialist. At that time, the
incident and counseling are documented in the
uncivil employee’s personnel file. If the incivility
becomes habitual or escalates, GDC fires the in-
stigator. GDC takes this stance regardless of the
offender’s stature or expertise. The leaders of GDC
believe that curtailing incivility requires swift or-
ganizational action when habitually uncivil em-
ployees violate norms for mutual respect. A senior
vice president of GDC shared his perspective.
I’ve talked to executives in other companies
who are amazed that we terminate for incivil-
ity if it happens repeatedly or becomes more
2005 15Pearson and Porath
intense. In their view, we risk lawsuits. But,
my answer is easy, I’d rather face the possi-
bility of a lawsuit than risk destroying our
culture, devastating employee relations, or
heading into an untenable situation that
could become violent.
In describing the behaviors of one of GDC’s
highly valued research scientists and the conse-
quences of those behaviors, the vice president con-
tinued,
He was frustrated. It was easy to understand
because in this industry it’s all about innova-
tion, and his ideas were not working out as he
anticipated. But he had already received a
warning about his nasty behavior toward one
of our secretaries, and we take this stuff seri-
ously, regardless of the level of the employee
who is offended. The scientist came back to
work one evening and, in further frustration,
cursed out a colleague and then hurled a
piece of equipment across the lab. We fired
him on the spot, had guards escort him out of
the building, and circulated his name and
photo through corporate security so that he
would never again be allowed on the pre-
mises. We had no choice, despite his intellec-
tual gifts. As leaders of GDC, we’re committed
to this. You just can’t let uncivil people destroy
your organization.
A Final Call to Action
As detailed in the appendix, we have studied the
phenomenon of incivility extensively. Our interest
was spawned not only by concerns that we heard
in businesses with which we were working, but
also by what we observed. As we searched for
research underpinnings, we were drawn to diverse
literatures to come at this issue from richly diver-
gent perspectives. In closing, we offer suggestions
of additional disciplines to which the intrigued
reader might turn. From psychology, research con-
cerning how interactions among individuals and
their social context affect antisocial behavior
31
can
be usefully applied to consider potential roots of
incivility. More recently, psychologists are pin-
pointing the occurrences and impact of incivility at
work.
32
Additional work informative for those inter-
ested in learning more about workplace incivility
can be found in diverse fields, including commu-
nication, law, criminology, and gender studies.
33
Through our research on this topic, we have at-
tempted to build a solid understanding of the na-
ture and process of workplace incivility, as well as
the precursors, consequences, and contexts that
surround the phenomenon. The generalizability of
our work is reflected in the diverse populations
from which we have gathered qualitative, quanti-
tative, and experimental data. Our attempt herein
is to highlight what we have learned that we be-
lieve most relevant to those who can play a critical
role in containing and curtailing workplace inci-
vility and its consequences. We urge managers
and executives to consider thoughtfully the situa-
tions in their own organizations.
Workplace incivility is a prevalent form of or-
ganizational deviance. Despite its subtle and am-
biguous nature, it can be deeply and broadly det-
rimental. Where incivility thrives, targets suffer
and organizations lose. When incivility cascades
within and beyond organization boundaries, it can
malign organizational interactions, tarnish the
company’s reputation, and create spillover effects
that diminish customer satisfaction and bottom
line objectives. To ignore incivility invites norms
that erode cooperation through unbridled individ-
ual self-interest and organizational deterioration.
Appendix
About the Research
Our incivility research comprises seven studies, six publica-
tions, 12 academic presentations and four manuscripts to date.
Given the newness of the construct of incivility, our original
work was exploratory as we sought to learn more about the
nature and relevance of incivility at work. For two years, we
(with Andersson, Temple University and Wegner, UNC) facili-
tated workshops and focus groups, meeting with a total of 670
voluntary participants, which included managers and execu-
tives, medical professionals, attorneys and judges across the
United States. Our inquiries focused on the nature of workplace
incivility that participants had experienced or witnessed, as
well as the behaviors, characteristics, and roles of instigators
and targets. We also gathered information specific to the par-
ticipants’ own experiences of incivility, including their reac-
tions and the responses of their organizations.
In our second study, we sought to understand and explain
how incivility differed from other types of workplace aggres-
sion. We collected questionnaire data from two samples. First,
a sample of 51 managers and 131 attorneys completed 16 open-
and closed-ended questions, including how they defined inci-
vility, aggression, and violence. We added a second sample of
223 employees from six Fortune 500 firms who were asked, in
addition, to provide (if applicable) an open-ended description of
a critical incident in which they were the target of rude, disre-
spectful, or insensitive behavior. This second sample also was
asked to assess different forms of aggression of varying inten-
sities through Likert-type scaling.
In our third study, we explored precursors, consequences,
and contexts surrounding incivility at work. Early on, we made
the decision to seek this information from experts whose occu-
pations require them to deal with work-related aggression reg-
ularly, as reflected in their literatures. Thus, we conducted
16 FebruaryAcademy of Management Executive
in-depth, semi-structured, individual interviews with 24 law
enforcement officers and 14 inner-city emergency medical pro-
fessionals.
To validate what we believed that we had learned to this
point and what we believed might be relevant to a business
audience, we conducted a two-day learning forum with a dozen
managers and professionals who were experts at managing
workplace aggression in their own workplace settings.
Since then, we have conducted a series of studies of various
types that build on this work. In our fifth study, we collected
data from 101 respondents from telecommunications and phar-
maceutical firms, as well as 675 alumni of a mid-Atlantic busi-
ness school. Our goal was to improve our understanding of the
process of incivility. Specifically, we wanted to learn how the
target experiences incivility (e.g., the emotional impact of an
event), and the specific consequences of incivility. Further,
through these questionnaires we inquired about how contex-
tual factors such as organizational culture, norms, and toler-
ance for incivility might shape the target’s experience and
responses. We also investigated the impact of specific individ-
ual factors such as gender and status of target and instigator.
Next, we began gathering data from the instigator’s perspec-
tive to determine why incivility begins (n125, to date). Most
recently, in our seventh study, we (with Erez, University of
Florida) shifted to experimental mode so that we could examine
participant responses to different scenarios and staged situa-
tions of incivility within a more controlled environment (n 418).
We focus here on highlights that we believe most applicable
to practice. For those interested in additional details, we offer
citations of relevant products of our work throughout the end-
notes.
Acknowledgments
In shaping this manuscript, we greatly appreciated the inspi-
rational support, thoughtful comments and provocative ques-
tions of Jane Dutton, Peter Frost, Jeff Landreth, Bronwyn Fryer,
Ed Lawler, Jim Marine, Mike Porath, Jim Pearson, Larry Greiner
and Tom Cummings, reflected herein to the best of our ability.
Endnotes
1
Remington, R., & Darden, M. 2002. Aggravating circumstanc
-
es: A status report on rudeness in America. NYC: Public Agenda.
2
For further scholarly consideration of the perceived preva
-
lence of incivility see, for example: Cortina, L. M., Magley, V. J.,
Williams, J. H., & Langhout, R. D. 2001. Incivility in the work-
place: Incidence and impact. Journal of Occupational Health
Psychology, 6: 6480; Ehrlich, H. J. & Larcom, B. E. K. 1994.
Ethnoviolence in the workplace. Baltimore, MD: Center for the
Applied Study of Ethnoviolence.
3
Among additional publications in which we have discussed
the effects of the prevalence of incivility, see our commentary in
Roche, E. 2003. Do something, he’s about to snap. Harvard Busi-
ness Review, July, 54 60; and Pearson, C. M. & Porath, C. L. 2004.
On incivility, its impact and directions for future research. In R.
Griffin & A. O’Leary-Kelly. The Dark Side of Organizational
Behavior. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass; Pearson, C., Andersson, L.
& Porath, C. 2000. Assessing and attacking workplace incivility.
Organizational Dynamics. Fall. 123–137.
4
For further discussion of potential causes of incivility, see
for example: Andersson, L. M., & Pearson, C. M. 1999. Tit-for-tat?
The spiraling effect of incivility in the workplace. Academy of
Management Review. 24(3): 452–471; Gonthier, G. 2002. Rude
awakenings: Overcoming the incivility crisis in the workplace.
Chicago: Dearborn Trade Publishing; Morand, D. A. 1998. Get-
ting serious about going casual on the job. Business Horizons,
41: 51–56; Porath, C., & Erez, A., Incivility and its effects on
performance, motivation and helping behaviors (working pa-
per, University of Southern California); Rafaeli, A., Dutton, J.,
Harquail, C. V., & Mackie-Lewis, S. 1997. Navigating by attire:
The use of dress by female administrative employees. Academy
of Management Journal. 40: 9 45. Roberts, M. C. 1985. A plea for
professional civility. Professional Psychology: Research and
Practice, 16(4): 474.
5
Bennett, R. J., & Robinson, S. L. 2002. The past, present, and
future of deviance research. In J. Greenberg (Ed.), Organiza-
tional behavior: The state of science. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence
Erlbaum Associates.
6
For further discussion of the evolution of this definition, as
well as the placement of the construct of incivility among other
forms of workplace deviance, please see Andersson, L. M., &
Pearson, C. M. 1999. Tit-for-tat? The spiraling effect of incivility
in the workplace, Academy of Management Review, 24 (3): 452–
471.
7
Baron, R. A., & Neuman, J. H. 1996. Workplace violence and
workplace aggression: Evidence on their relative frequency and
potential causes. Aggressive Behavior, 22: 161–173.
8
Johnson, P. R. & Indvik, J. 2001. Rudeness at work: Impulse
over restraint. Public Personnel Management 30 (4) pp.457– 465.
9
For a broad discussion of civility at the societal level in the
U.S., see Carter, S. L. 1998. Civility: Manners, morals, and the
etiquette of democracy. New York: Basic Books.
10
Although workplace incivility is a relatively new scholarly
construct, there is abundant research in psychology and or-
ganizational studies regarding other forms of deviance, includ-
ing aggression. Among these publications, we recommend the
following: Berkowitz, L. 1986. Some varieties of human aggres-
sion: Criminal violence as coercion, rule-following, impression
management, and impulsive behavior. In A. Campbell & J. J.
Gibbs (Eds.), Violent transactions: 87–103. Oxford, England: Basil
Blackwell; Bies, R. J. & Tripp, T. M. 1995. Beyond distrust: “Get-
ting even” and the need for revenge. In Kramer R. M., & Tyler,
T. R. (Eds.) Trust in organizations. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage:
246–260; Luckenbill, D. F. 1977. Criminal homicide as a situated
transaction. Social Problems, 25:176 –186; Tedeshi, J. T., & Felson,
R. B. 1994. Violence, aggression and coercive actions. Washing-
ton, DC: American Psychological Association.
11
Cortina, L. M., Magley, V. J., Williams, J. H., & Langhout,
R. D. 2001. Incivility in the workplace: Incidence and impact.
Journal of Occupational Health Psychology,6:6480.
12
Ehrlich, H. J., & Larcom, B. E. K. 1994. Ethnoviolence in the
workplace. Baltimore: Center for the Applied Study of Ethnovio-
lence.
13
Graydon, J., Kasta, W., & Khan, P. 1994. Verbal and physical
abuse of nurses. Canadian Journal of Nursing Administration,
November-December: 70 89.
14
Larson, R. 1996; 2002.
15
Pearson, Andersson & Porath, op. cit.; Pearson, C., Anders
-
son, L., & Wegner, J. 2001. When workers flout convention: A
preliminary study of workplace incivility. Human Relations,
54:1387–1419.
16
Pearson, Andersson & Porath, op. cit.
17
Cascio, W. 2000. Costing human resources (4
th
edition). Cin
-
cinnati, OH: South-Western.
18
For additional discussion of the connection between or
-
ganizational treatment of employees and workplace violence,
see the following. Allcom, S. 1994. Anger in the workplace:
Understanding the causes of aggression and violence. Westport,
CT: Quorum Books; Anfuso, D. 1994. Deflecting workplace vio-
lence. Personnel Journal. 73: 66 –78; Brandt, G. T., & Brennan, J. M.
1993. Workplace time bombs can be diffused. Human Resource
Professional. 10 –12; Labig, C. E. 1995. Preventing violence in the
2005 17Pearson and Porath
workplace. NY: AMACOM; Pearson, C. M. 1998. Organizations
as targets and triggers of aggression and violence. Research in
the Sociology of Organizations. 15: 197–223.
19
For further consideration of individual power and harmdo
-
ing, see: Bies, R. J. & Tripp, T. M. 1995. Beyond distrust: “Getting
even” and the need for revenge. In Kramer & Tyler, op. cit.:
246–260; Epstein, S., & Taylor, S. P. 1967. Instigation to aggres-
sion as a function of degree of defeat and perceived aggressive
intent of the opponent. Journal of Personality, 35: 265–289; Neu-
man, J. H., & Baron, R. A. 1998. Workplace violence and work-
place aggression: Evidence concerning specific forms, potential
causes, and preferred targets. Journal of Management, 24: 391–
419; Ohbuchi, K., & Saito, M. 1986. Power imbalance, its legiti-
macy, and aggression. Aggressive Behavior, 12: 33– 40; Tedeshi,
J. T., & Felson, R. B. 1994. Violence, aggression and coercive
actions. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
20
Aquino, K., Lewis, M. U., & Bradfield, M. 1999. Justice con
-
structs, negative affectivity, and employee deviance: A pro-
posed model and empirical test. Journal of Organizational Be-
havior, 20: 1073–1091.
21
Tannen, D. 1999. The argument culture: Stopping America’s
war of words. Ballantine Books. For additional consideration of
relevant gendered differences regarding verbal aggression,
see: Felson, R. B. 1982. Impression management and the esca-
lation of aggression and violence. Social Psychology Quarterly,
45: 245–254; Lindeman, M., Harakka, T., & Keltikangas-Jaervinen,
L. 1997. Age and gender differences in adolescents’ reactions to
conflict situations: Aggression, prosociality, and withdrawal.
Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 26: 339 –351.
22
For example, see Kanter’s classic study, Kanter, R. M. 1977.
Men and women of the corporation. New York: Basic Books, Inc.;
Felson, R. B. 1982. Impression management and the escalation
of aggression and violence. Social Psychology Quarterly, 45:
245–254.
23
Cortina, L. M., Lonsway, K. L., Magley, V. J., Freeman, L. V.,
Collinsworth, L. L., Hunter, M., & Fitzgerald, L. F. 2002. What’s
gender got to do with it? Incivility in the federal courts. Law and
Social Inquiry, 27: 235–270.
24
Kolb, D. M. 1992. Women’s work: Peacemaking in organiza
-
tions. In D. M. Kolb & J. M. Bartunek (Eds.). Hidden conflict in
organizations: Uncovering behind the scenes disputes. Newbury
Park, CA: Sage.
25
For more general consideration of gendered differences
regarding aggression, see: Eagley, A. H., & Steffen, V. J. 1986.
Gender and aggressive behavior: A meta-analytic review of the
social psychological literature. Psychological Bulletin, 100: 303–
330; Felson, R. B. 1982. Impression management and the esca-
lation of aggression and violence. Social Psychology Quarterly,
45: 245–254.
26
Fletcher, J. K. 1998. Relational practice: A feminist recon
-
struction of work. Journal of Management Inquiry, 7: 163–186;
Rothleder, D. 1992. Disappearing. Philosophy Today, 36: 173–180.
27
Fletcher, J. K. 1999. Disappearing acts. Cambridge, MA: The
M.I.T. Press.
28
Schneider, B., & Bowen, D. E. 1995. Winning the service
game. Boston: Harvard Business School Press.
29
Hays, S. 1999. American Express taps into the power of
emotional intelligence. Workforce, 78: 72–74.
30
Pearson, C. M., Andersson, L. M., & Porath, C. L. 2004.
Workplace incivility. In P. Spector & S. Fox (Eds.). Counterpro-
ductive workplace behavior: Investigations of actors and tar-
gets. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association (in
press).
31
Bandura, A. 1973. Aggression: A social learning analysis.
Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall; Felson, R.B. 1992. “Kick ’em
when they’re down”: Explanations of the relationship between
stress and interpersonal aggression and violence. Sociological
Quarterly, 33: 1–16; Tedeschi, J.T., & Felson, R.B. 1994. Violence,
aggression and coercive actions. Washington, D.C.: American
Psychological Association.
32
Cortina, Magley, Williams, & Langhout, op.cit.
33
For initial suggestions for relevant sources from commu
-
nication, law, criminology and gender studies, respectively,
see: Tannen, D. 1999. The argument culture: Stopping America’s
war of words. New York: Ballantine Books; MacKinnon, C. 1994.
Only words. New York: Basic Books; Felson, R. B. & Steadman, H.
J. 1983. Situational factors in disputes leading to criminal vio-
lence. Criminology. 21: 59 –74; Fletcher, op. cit.
Christine Pearson, associate professor of management at Thun-
derbird The Garvin School of International Management,
received her Ph.D. in business from the University of Southern
California. She studies the best way to deter and manage the
dark side of workplace behavior, from the devastations of or-
ganizational crises to the lesions of day-to-day incivility. Con-
tact: pearsonc@t-bird.edu.
Christine L. Porath is an Assistant Professor of Management
and Organizational Behavior at the Marshall School of Busi-
ness, University of Southern California. She received her Ph.D.
from Kenan-Flagler Business School at the University of North
Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her main research interests are inci-
vility and self-management, with a focus on promoting positive,
ethical work environments and outcomes. Contact: cporath@
marshall.usc.edu.
18 FebruaryAcademy of Management Executive
... -Thứ nhất, để giảm khiếm nhã đến từ bên trong tổ chức, doanh nghiệp dịch vụ tài chính có thể đặt ra chính sách không khoan nhượng với những hành vi khiếm nhã (Pearson & Porath, 2005). ...
... -Thứ hai, những ứng xử lịch sự nên được đề cao và truyền thông đến toàn bộ nhân sự trong tổ chức (Pearson & Porath, 2005), về lâu dài có thể được phát triển thành một phần của văn hóa tổ chức. ...
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Mối quan hệ giữa sự khiếm nhã và tình trạng kiệt quệ cảm xúc ở nhân viên tuyến đầu: Vai trò điều tiết của nhân tố tự tin năng lực bản thân Mã phân loại JEL: J19; J59; M59; M12. Từ khóa: Nhân viên tuyến đầu; Khiếm nhã nơi làm việc; Khiếm nhã từ cấp trên; Khiếm nhã từ khách hàng; Kiệt quệ cảm xúc; Tự tin năng lực bản thân. Nghiên cứu chỉ ra tác động tiêu cực của khiếm nhã công sở đến tâm lý của nhân viên tuyến đầu và khả năng điều tiết của sự tự tin năng lực bản thân như một giải pháp cho tác động trên. Nghiên cứu được thực hiện bằng phương pháp định lượng thông qua dữ liệu từ 316 nhân viên tuyến đầu trong lĩnh vực dịch vụ tài chính trên địa bàn Hà Nội bằng khảo sát trực tuyến. Dữ liệu thu thập được xử lý thông qua các bước phân tích độ tin cậy, phân tích khám phá nhân tố, phân tích khẳng định nhân tố, mô hình cấu trúc tuyến tính SEM, và phân tích hồi quy phân cấp cho tác động điều tiết. Các khuyến nghị như: Chính sách không khoan nhượng với khiếm nhã, và chương trình nâng cao tự tin năng lực cá nhân cho nhân viên được đưa ra. Abstract The purpose of this study is to point out the adverse impacts of workplace incivility on frontline employees' well-being and the moderating ability of self-efficacy which makes this factor a potential solution. The study is performed by quantitative methods through data of 316 frontline employees in the financial services field in Hanoi, Vietnam using online survey. Collected data are processed through steps of reliability analysis, exploratory factor analysis (EFA), confirmatory factor analysis (CFA), structural equation modeling (SEM), * Tác giả liên hệ.
... Workplace incivility is a "low-intensity deviant workplace behavior with ambiguous intent to harm [other employees]" (Andersson and Pearson, 1999, p. 456). Examples include talking down to co-workers, uttering degrading remarks, spreading rumors and not listening to others (Pearson and Porath, 2005). After its introduction by Andersson and Pearson (1999), workplace incivility has become a focal concept in the organizational behavior literature (Vasconcelos, 2020). ...
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Purpose-This study aims to propose and test a model explicating the antecedents and consequences of knowledge sabotage. Design/methodology/approach-Data obtained from 330 employees working in the Turkish retail and telecommunication sectors were analyzed by means of the Partial Least Squares Structural Equation Modeling technique. Findings-Co-worker knowledge sabotage is the key factor driving knowledge sabotage behavior of individual employees, followed by co-worker incivility. Interactional justice suppresses individual knowledge sabotage, while supervisor incivility does not affect it. Co-worker knowledge sabotage reduces job satisfaction of other employees, which, in turn, triggers their voluntary turnover intention. Contrary to a popular belief that perpetrators generally benefit from their organizational misbehavior, the findings indicate that knowledge saboteurs suffer from the consequences of their action because they find it mentally difficult to stay in their current organization. Employees understate their own knowledge sabotage engagement and/or overstate that of others. Practical implications-Managers should realize that interactional justice is an important mechanism that can thwart knowledge sabotage behavior, promote a civil organizational culture, develop proactive approaches to reduce co-worker incivility and strive towards a zero rate of knowledge sabotage incidents in their organizations. Co-worker incivility and co-worker knowledge sabotage in the workplace are possible inhibitors of intraorganizational knowledge flows and are starting points for job dissatisfaction, which may increase workers' turnover intention. Originality/value-This study is among the first to further our knowledge on the cognitive mechanisms linking interactional justice and uncivil organizational behavior with knowledge sabotage and employee outcomes.
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This article aims to document a particular manifestation of organizational computer mediated communication: cyber incivilities at work. After having shown the links established in psychology research between cyber incivilities, health, quality of life at work and job satisfaction, we complete these different approaches with an action research and explore two specific hypotheses: one concerns the trivialization of digital violence at work, the other the existing gaps between the devices implemented by companies and realities experienced by employees.
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The demand for innovative, solutions-oriented approaches to closing learning competency gaps is leading to the recasting of organizations as learning and innovation-centric organizational communities. The makerspace movement is a sector where new communities are emerging to include diverse groups of entrepreneurs. The findings in this study provide insight that will assist in meeting the challenges posed by declining economic and social conditions of former industrial centers and rural communities that were part of thriving economic pipelines during the height of the industrial age. The study examines a makerspace as a solution for creating jobs, filling gaps in the supply chain, and reimagining local manufacturing. The IOC approach also possesses potential for helping to reduce equity gaps and facilitating inclusive practices. The concept of innovation-centric organizational communities, based on maximizing affective learning, is consistent with emerging 21st century workforce demands and their relationship to entrepreneurial opportunities for underserved communities.
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Objective - The objective of the investigation was to examine the correlation between workplace incivility and employees' viewpoints by intention to quit and to investigate if gender buffers the link and the variations in workplace incivility tolerance between female and male civil servants. Methodology/Technique – The study respondents were comprised of 375 civil servants that filled out a self-administrated survey. Hypothesis testing uses the SmartPLS version 3.3,7. Finding – The outcomes showed that workplace incivility was significantly correlated to the intention to quit, and gender is not supported as a moderator of the incivility-intention to quit correlation. Conclusively, there was a substantial difference in workplace incivility between men and women. Surprisingly, men sensed even more extreme degrees of workplace incivility than women. Novelty – This study might be worthwhile evidence that workplace incivility has a positive effect on the intention to quit among civil servants, and the relationship was not moderated by gender. The higher civil servants perceived workplace incivility the higher the intent to quit the organization. The study might be worthwhile evidence for administrators to pinpoint, avert, avoid, avert and manage negative attitudes in the work environment more efficiently. Type of Paper: Empirical JEL Classification: M12, M19. Keywords: Workplace Incivility; Gender; Intention To Quit, Civil Servant Reference to this paper should be referred to as follows: Gadi, P.D.; Rena, M.N.; Ngyak, G.N. (2022). Workplace incivility and intention to quit among Civil Servants. The moderating role of gender, GATR-Global J. Bus. Soc. Sci. Review, 10(2), 104–113. https://doi.org/10.35609/gjbssr.2022.10.2(4)
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Tujuan dari riset ini adalah menguji perbedaan experienced workplace incivility berdasarkan status pegawai dan jenis kelamin. Metode kuantitatif digunakan dalam penelitian ini. Penelitian ini melibatkan populasi tenaga kependidikan Universitas X dengan teknik sampling jenuh, diperoleh responden 52 pegawai (25 pegawai tetap dan 27 pegawai kontrak; 19 pegawai laki-laki dan 33 pegawai perempuan). Instrumen yang digunakan adalah skala experienced workplace incivility yang terdiri dari 7 aaitem. Independent Sample T-Test digunakan untuk menganalisis data pada penelitian ini. Hasil yang didapatkan yaitu hipotesis ditolak (p > 0,05) maka tidak ada perbedaan experienced workplace incivility berdasarkan status pegawai dan jenis kelamin. Temuan penelitian ini memperluas penelitian sebelumnya tentang workplace incivility, terutama pada tenaga kependidikan di perguruan tinggi.
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The importance of authentic leadership has increased in various organizations as one of the positive leadership styles that affect the survival and continuity of organizations in a dynamic work environment. This is due to the influence of authentic leadership on many organizational outcomes such as performance, satisfaction, productivity, incivility, and counterproductive work behaviors. The objectives of this study are to assess the impact of authentic leadership on workplace incivility and counterproductive work behaviors, identify the impact of workplace incivility on counterproductive work behaviors, and explore the mediating role of workplace incivility in the relationship between authentic leadership and counterproductive work behaviors in Egyptian and Turkish travel agents. Data were obtained from 647 employees working in Egyptian and Turkish travel agents. Results indicated that authentic leadership is negatively affected both workplace incivility and counterproductive work behaviors, while workplace incivility is positively affected counterproductive work behaviors. The results also highlighted that workplace incivility plays a partial mediating role in the link between authentic leadership and counterproductive work behaviors in Egyptian and Turkish travel agents.
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Purpose Uncivil customer behaviour is a concern for service providers and can result in increasing vulnerability for them or their customers. This paper aimed to investigate the interactional link between customer incivility and service provider retaliation and job outcomes. Furthermore, power distance orientation and gender were investigated as potential moderators between customer and retaliation incivilities. Design/methodology/approach Five hypotheses were examined empirically through structural equation modelling. Overall, 679 (356 males and 323 females) service providers recruited across three countries, namely Australia ( N = 233), Singapore ( N = 199) and the Philippines ( N = 247), were surveyed online. Findings The results indicated that incivility caused work exhaustion, which negatively impacted job satisfaction. Power distance orientation moderated the association between customer and retaliatory incivilities, leading to exhaustion and dissatisfaction with one's job. Importantly, the results also revealed that the female service providers with a higher power distance tend to instigate incivility compared to their male counterparts. Originality/value By incorporating both conservation of resource and negative spiral incivility theories, this study provided an integrated and cohesive explanation for both the direct and interaction effects between customer incivility, retaliatory incivility and work outcomes. In addition, the finding that emotional exhaustion promoted job dissatisfaction highlighted the importance of examining the former's role especially among the female service providers with a higher power distance as they may be less able to restrain their retaliatory behaviours during uncivil incidents. Several practical solutions aimed at reducing the vulnerability encountered by the mistreated service providers were proposed.
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We conducted an inductive study of the everyday decisions about dress at work of female administrative employees in a university business school. Our findings reveal that dress is an attribute embedded in a variety of cognitive schemata that govern individuals' comprehension of and behavior at work. In acquiring and executing these schemata, employees make efforts that enhance their emotional preparedness for jobs and improve interpersonal relations. The study offers implications for theory and research on organizational symbolism, role taking, and the current practical trend toward relaxed dress.
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Contrary to the impression generated by an increasing number of news reports in the past several years, the occurrence of workplace violencemextreme acts of aggression involving direct physical assault represents a relatively rare event in work settings. However, workplace aggression--efforts by individuals to harm others with whom they work or have worked---are much more prevalent and may prove extremely damaging to individuals and organizations. This paper presents empirical evidence on the varied forms of workplace aggression and their relative frequency of occurrence in work settings. We offer a theoretical framework for understanding this phenomenon---one based on contemporary theories of human aggression----and demonstrate how principles associated with this framework may be applied to the management and prevention of all forms of aggression in workplaces.
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In this article we introduce the concept of workplace incivility and explain how incivility can potentially spiral into increasingly intense aggressive behaviors. To gain an understanding of the mechanisms that underlie an "incivility spiral," we examine what happens at key points: the starting and tipping points. Furthermore, we describe several factors that can facilitate the occurrence and escalation of an incivility spiral and the secondary spirals that can result. We offer research propositions and discuss implications of workplace incivility for researchers and practitioners.
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The current study examines experiences of interpersonal mistreatment in federal litigation among a random sample of 4,608 practicing attorneys. Using both quantitative and qualitative survey data, we documented the nature and interplay of general incivility, gender-related incivility, and unwanted sexual attention. Nearly 75% of female attorneys had experienced some form of this misconduct in the previous five years, compared to half of male attorneys. An in-depth examination of instigators revealed that not only fellow attorneys but also federal judges, court personnel, marshals, and court security officers instigated the inappropriate behavior. We further found that most attorneys responded to this mistreatment with avoidance and denial; few used or trusted existing reporting mechanisms. The current study surpassed simple prevalence estimates to document effects of interpersonal mistreatment on the professional well-being of targeted attorneys. We discuss implications of these results, drawing on theories of social dominance, sex-role spillover, cognitive stress, organizations, and intervention.