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The Role of Co-Workers’ Solidarity as an Antecedent of Incivility and Deviant Behavior in Organizations

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Drawing on the social exchange theory this study assesses the relationship between co-workers’ solidarity as an antecedent of incivility and deviant behavior. More specifically we hypothesize that reduced co-workers’ solidarity will increase not only incivility but also deviant behaviors of employees. An additional hypothesis predicts that incivility will enhance co-workers’ deviant behavior. Data was collected in 15 organizations of various types using an online questionnaire in 2014. We analyze the data using structural equation modeling. Our findings reveal interrelationships between all three variables. Co-workers’ solidarity reduces uncivil and deviant behaviors of employees, whereas incivility increases organizational deviance. Moreover, we found that the explained variance of property deviance by incivility was twice as high compared to production deviance.
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Deviant Behavior
ISSN: 0163-9625 (Print) 1521-0456 (Online) Journal homepage: http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/udbh20
The Role of Co-Workers’ Solidarity as an
Antecedent of Incivility and Deviant Behavior in
Organizations
Yariv Itzkovich & Sibylle Heilbrunn
To cite this article: Yariv Itzkovich & Sibylle Heilbrunn (2016): The Role of Co-Workers’ Solidarity
as an Antecedent of Incivility and Deviant Behavior in Organizations, Deviant Behavior
To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01639625.2016.1152865
Published online: 04 Apr 2016.
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The Role of Co-WorkersSolidarity as an Antecedent of Incivility
and Deviant Behavior in Organizations
Yariv Itzkovich
a,b
and Sibylle Heilbrunn
a,b,c
a
Kinneret Research Center for Applied Ethics in Organizations, Sea of Galilee, Israel;
b
Kinneret Academic College, Sea
of Galilee, Israel;
c
Haifa University, Haifa, Israel
ABSTRACT
Drawing on the social exchange theory this study assesses the relationship
between co-workerssolidarity as an antecedent of incivility and deviant
behavior. More specifically we hypothesize that reduced co-workerssoli-
darity will increase not only incivility but also deviant behaviors of employ-
ees. An additional hypothesis predicts that incivility will enhance co-
workersdeviant behavior. Data was collected in 15 organizations of various
types using an online questionnaire in 2014. We analyze the data using
structural equation modeling. Our findings reveal interrelationships
between all three variables. Co-workerssolidarity reduces uncivil and devi-
ant behaviors of employees, whereas incivility increases organizational
deviance. Moreover, we found that the explained variance of property
deviance by incivility was twice as high compared to production deviance.
ARTICLE HISTORY
Received 27 April 2015
Accepted 10 August 2015.
Introduction
In times of globalization, changing market dynamics, and technological developments, organizations
need structures that are more flexible. in order to meet labor market tendencies such as downsizing
or restructuring job combinationsoften following mergers and acquisitionswhich lead to more
complex and more intensive interdependencies between people in organizations (Ley et al. 2012; Van
der Vegt and Flache 2006). These interdependencies often increase employeesresponsibilities on the
one hand, but at the same time, practices such as extensive monitoring, digitalization and elimina-
tion of network jobs facilitating communication introduce new layers of possible inner-organiza-
tional conflicts between managers and workers (Richardson 2010). Organizational solidarity
concerns one form of this interdependency, and therefore in the framework of this article we intend
to explore relationships between co-workerssolidarity, incivility, and deviant behavior. When
placing solidarity at one pole of a continuum and incivility at the other pole, we would expect
employeesproduction and property devianciesharmful to the organizationto be much more
extensive at the incivility pole and when facing lack of co-workerssolidarity. Examining the role of
co-workerssolidarity as an antecedent of incivility and deviant behavior towards the organization is
important, since there is a lack of knowledge as to the antecedents of incivility (Schilpzand De Pater,
and Erez 2015), and since deviant behavior can cause damage to the organization (Cortina 2008; Lee
and Jensen 2014). In line with Lee and Jensen (2014), we argue that understanding the sources of
uncivil and deviant behavior (to both production and property) in the workplace can reduce
incivility, thereby contribute to a positive workplace atmosphere.
The broad theoretical framing of this article is the classical social exchange theory (Blau 1964;
Homans 1961; Thibaut and Kelley 1959) assuming that individuals are rational and engage cost and
benefit calculations in all social exchanges. The theory postulates that the exchange of social and
CONTACT Yariv Itzkovich Itzkovichyariv@gmail.com Kinneret College on the Sea of Galilee, School of Social Sciences and
Humanities, Tzemach Junction, MP Jordan Valley 15132, Israel.
© 2016 Taylor & Francis
DEVIANT BEHAVIOR
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material resources is a fundamental form of human interaction. Rational assessment of self-interest
in human social relationships is the focus of the theory, people choosing behaviors that maximize
their likelihood of meeting self-interests; therefore, an interaction that prompts approval from
another person is more likely to be repeated than one that causes disapproval (Cook et al. 2013).
Rewards or approval can take tangible or intangible forms and in the framework of organizational
settings examples include recognition or money. An example for intangible punishment or disap-
proval would be public humiliation and wage reduction for tangible punishment or disapproval
(Andersen and Taylor 2009). In order to account for the fact that this study is situated within the
framework of organizations, we focus on the application of the theory in business and economic
literature.
Cropanzano and Mitchel (2005) reviewed the utilization of social exchange theory (SET) and
noted that although the norms of reciprocity are used originally for explaining interpersonal
relations between two individuals, it can well be applied to social interactions between various
groupings of actors including the relationship between individuals and organizations (Cropanzano
and Mitchel 2005; Masterson et al. 2000). This extended approach to interpersonal relationships in
organizations was later adopted by scholars using SET framing such as Aryee and colleagues (2013),
who investigated the impact of justice perceptions of employees on performance, and Paillé, Grima,
and Dufour (2015), who investigated the impact of support on intentions to leave. A recent review
on incivility indicated that such a wider perspective is missing in the research arena of incivility,
which primarily focuses on interactions between individuals (Schilpzand et al. 2015).
The basic principles of SET postulate that individuals estimate their exchange with the organiza-
tion. Once these exchange relationships are perceived as valuable, individuals reciprocate in a
manner that is valuable to the organization (Aryee et al. 2013; Paillé et al. 2015). This constitutes
the bright side of organizational behavior. This line of thought is well developed in the research of
organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) (Cropanzano and Mitchel 2005; Paillé et al. 2015).
Alternatively, if one of the parties perceives the transaction as negative, on the grounds of the
same but now negative norm of reciprocity, the other partner to the exchange will react negatively
(Cropanzano and Mitchel 2005). This alternate line of argumentation refers to the dark side of
organizational behavior. Drawing on this line, researchers found that frequent experiences of co-
worker incivility is related to increased adverse feelings and decreased work effort (Sakurai and Jex
2012). These findings demonstrate the darker path of SET, but also indicate that the impact of co-
workerssupport (or lack of support) goes beyond the boundaries of dyadic interactions.
Taken together, it is plausible to expand the micro level tit for tatprinciple presented by
Andersson and Pearson (1999) concerning incivility, to a combined micromacro level and to
draw adverse (i.e., comparing to OCB) reciprocity relationships between individuals and organiza-
tions, which are based on initial negative exchange between co-workers. By doing so, to some extent,
this article responds to Schilpzand et al. (2015), who called for investigating incivility implications
beyond the dyadic relationships of the two parties to the conflict.
The present study contributes to the literature by presenting extended tit for tatrelationships,
manifested through a linkage between co-workerssolidarity and perceptions of incivility at the
micro level and deviant organizational outcomes at the macro level. To date, such linkage between
co-workerssolidarity and incivility was not introduced. Moreover, only two researchers investigated
the relationship between incivility and employee deviance, yet both focused on specific forms of
incivilitye-incivility (Lim and Teo 2009) or co-workersincivility (Sakurai and Jex 2012). Our study
measured perceived incivility from different sources.
In addition, the current study offers some support for the outstanding theoretical conceptualiza-
tion of Robinson and Bennett (1995) of property and production deviance. To the best of our
knowledge, such empirical support was not introduced beforehand. The only scale including the
property and production differentiation is the Hollinger and Clarks(1982) scale, which was
designed for specific occupations such as retail, hospital, and manufacturing industries (Bennett
and Robinson 2000).
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Last, this study was conducted in the Mediterranean area. To the best of our knowledge, only
scant research investigated incivility in this geographical zone (e.g. Itzkovich 2014). This
contribution is in line with Schilpzandsetal.(2015) call for further investigating incivility in
diverse cultures.
Literature review and hypotheses development
Solidarity
Solidarity refers to a situation in which the well-being of one person or group is positively related to
that of others, indicating mutual interdependence (De Beer and Koster 2009:12). Organizational
solidarity refers to the application of a general definition of solidaritycontributing to the common
good (Hechter 1987; Lindenberg 1998) of organizations and people in organizations. Following
Koster and Sanders (2007:570), we maintain that in the organizational context solidarity is concep-
tually located within co-operative types of behavior, and should be specified in terms of the
structural location at which the behavior is aimed. Thus, workers can behave in a cooperative
manner either to supervisors or to peers. The former is called vertical solidarity and the latter
horizontal solidarity. In the context of this study we used the term of horizontal solidarity (Sanders
and Schyns 2006) understood as cooperative behavior of employees to team members/co-workers.
Koster and Sanders (2006) maintain that horizontal solidarity concerns behaving agreeably with co-
workers even when it is not convenient or formally described.
Research focusing on the causes of solidarity ranges from interpersonal relations at the micro
level (Koster 2005; Koster and Sanders 2006,2007; Koster et al. 2007) to social contexts at the macro
level, such as heterogeneity, globalization, and social policies (Koster 2007; Koster and Kaminska
2012). Organizational-level characteristics associated with employee solidarity are high levels of both
formal and informal information exchange, low-level authority decentralization, and transforma-
tional leadership styles (Cramm, Strating, and Nieboer 2013). Results of their study revealed that
hierarchical culture and centralization are negatively associated with employee solidarity, whereas
formal and informal exchange of information is positively associated with employee solidarity.
Consequences of horizontal solidarity should be high levels of cooperation, positive attitudes and
behaviors, and a positive work place atmosphere (Locke 2003). In accordance, results of former
studies revealed a positive relationship between cohesiveness (Sanders and Schyns 2006) and
solidarity behavior as well as a positive impact of presence of explicit fair play rules on solidarity
(Sanders and Emmerik 2004). Therefore, solidarity behavior is seen as one of the most important
success factors in organizations (Wickens 1995) contributing to willingness to cooperate, and to
enhance pro-social and citizenship organizational behavior, whereas lack of solidarity may foster
uncivil patterns of behavior.
Incivility
Incivility was first defined by Andersson and Pearson (1999)a
slow-intensity deviant behavior with
ambiguous intent to harm the target, in violation of workplace norms for mutual respect(p. 457).
While civility is demonstrated through adequate interpersonal interactions, incivility is repre-
sented through inappropriate social encounters (Andersson and Pearson 1999; Pearson and Porath
2005), either active as in the case of public criticism or passive as in the case of silent treatment
(Hershcovis 2011).
Incivility is distinct from other interpersonal mistreatment by two main criteria: First, incivility is
low-intensity deviant behavior (Andersson and Pearson 1999; Pearson and Porath 2005; Walker, van
Jaarsveld, and Skarlicki 2014). Thus compared to high-intensity behaviors such as bullying or
aggression, incivility represents a milder form of interpersonal mistreatment (Cortina et al. 2001;
Pearson, Andersson, and Porath 2000; Pearson, Andersson, and Wegner 2001).
DEVIANT BEHAVIOR 3
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The second criterion which distinguishes incivility from other forms of interpersonal mistreat-
ment is its ambiguous intent to harm its target (Sliter, Sliter, and Jex 2012; Trudel and Reio 2011).
Thus incivility is subjective in nature and therefore each one of the parties to an uncivil encounter
can interpret reality in a different manner, which eventually leads to differences in attribution of
intent. While some targets of incivility perceive it as intended, others might not consider it as
intended (Gallus et al. 2014; Sliter et al. 2012).
As a deviant interpersonal interaction, incivility inflicts harm to both individuals and organiza-
tions. From the individual perspective, research findings indicate an adverse relationship between
incivility and physical well-being (Hershcovis 2011; Nicholson and Griffin 2014). Nicholson and
Griffin (2014) found that daily incivilities impact psychological detachment and relaxation after
work. Additional individual impacts of incivility concern physical health (Githens 2011; Hershcovis
2011), psychological health (Hershcovis 2011; Miner and Eischeid 2012) or reactive perpetration
responses as described by Gallus et al. (2014).
From the organizational perspective, researchers focused on implications on job dissatisfaction
(Githens 2011; Hershcovis 2011), withdrawal intentions (Hershcovis 2011), actual withdrawal from
work (Githens 2011; Porath and Pearson 2012), and absenteeism. For instance, Porath and Pearson
(2012) found that incivilities lead to negative emotions such as fear which was associated with
withdrawal intentions; both fear and sadness were correlated with absenteeism. Other studies
investigated implications of reduced affective commitment (Hershcovis 2011; Smith, Andrusyszyn,
and Laschinger 2010), reduced engagement (Trudel and Reio 2011), and deviant behavior (Lim and
Teo 2009; Sakurai and Jex 2012). The study of Lim and Teo (2009) revealed that workers who
experienced cyber incivility were more inclined to engage in deviant behavior.
As exchange of information is positively associated with solidarity (Cramm et al. 2013), and on
the other hand incivility can be manifested through lack of such exchange as in the case of silent
treatment (Hershcovis 2011), in the framework of our study we maintain that lack of solidarity from
co-workers will be interpreted by their colleagues (i.e., the targets of this lack of solidarity) as uncivil
behavior.
H
1
Organizational co-workerssolidarity will be negatively connected to incivility.
Deviant behavior
Robinson and Bennett (1995)introduced the concept of workplace deviance and defined it as
voluntary behavior that violates significant organizational norms and in so doing threatens the
well-being of an organization, its members or both(p. 556).
Mapping the concept by multidimensional scaling method revealed two dimensions. The first
dimension distinguishes between deviant acts by the inclination of the deviancy toward people
versus its inclination toward the organization. The second dimension distinguishes between deviant
acts which are less serious versus those which are more serious. The two dimensions represent four
distinct facets of deviancy:
The first two dimensions concern property and production deviance, which are directed toward
the organization. These dimensions of deviance were initially introduced by Hollinger and Clark
(1982) and by Hollinger (1986).
The third and fourth dimensions concern political deviance and personal aggression, which are
directed toward people. Out of the four, political deviance and production deviance are considered
minor compared to property deviance and personal aggression (Robinson and Bennett 1995).
Five years later Bennett and Robinson (2000) developed a scale for measuring workplace
deviance. The scale consists of twelve items which measure organizational deviance and five items
which measure interpersonal deviance. Yet, to date, the former structure of four dimensions is not
expressed through the measurement scale. As mentioned before, one exception is the Hollinger and
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Clarks scale (1982), which did correspond with the property and production conceptualization, yet
was designed for specific occupations (Bennett and Robinson 2000).
Workplace deviance has been widely investigated in the last two decades. Findings indicate that
workplace deviance was widely used to assess its connection to abusive supervision (Tepper et al.
2008). Additional studies assess the connection between employee deviance and justice perceptions
(Aquino, Galperin, and Bennett 2004), yet to date no research investigated the connection between
solidarity and workplace deviance. Moreover, the investigation of the connection between deviant
outcomes and incivility is relatively rare. Only two researchers investigated the relationship between
incivility and employee deviance, yet both focused on specific forms of incivility: e- incivility (Lim
and Teo 2009) or co-workers incivility (Sakurai and Jex 2012).
In the framework of our study we postulate that if the organization refrains from dealing with the
instigators, it is perceived as not providing a supportive work environment as expected by employees
(Alias, Mohd, and Abu 2012). Therefore, the employees are likely to retaliate negatively to the
organization, via various types of deviant behavior.
H
2
Incivility perception will be positively connected to deviant behavior.
In addition, it is expected that solidarity should reduce deviant behavior of employees, since an
organizational atmosphere fostering solidarity makes employees feel a sense of belonging to the
organization, and they have no incentive to cause harm to the organizations property or production
productivity.
H
3
Organizational co-workerssolidarity will be negatively connected to deviant behavior.
Figure 1 illustrates the theoretical model of our research.
Method
Participants
We collected the data for our study in 15 organizations of various types sited in Israel. We engaged
undergraduate students enrolled in three colleges located in the south, north, and center of Israel
who participated at the time of data collection in seminars on organizational behavior. The students
approached working adults at their own or their parentswork place from different industries and
occupational status to take part in our study. The survey questionnaire was administered to the
respondents via a Web link in 2014. The survey file was accompanied by a cover letter to the
participants stressing the importance of the research, encouraging them to respond truthfully, and
assuring their complete anonymity. The students administered the survey via their own mail
Figure 1. The theoretical structure of the proposed framework.
DEVIANT BEHAVIOR 5
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accounts, and the survey results were concentrated in a central data file handled by the researchers.
Answering the Web link did not require identification of the surveysparticipants, thereby ensuring
complete anonymity.
The initial sample for this study included 739 persons. We removed data from about 8% (54)
participants who answered to less than 30% of the survey items from the analysis. After this procedure,
the final sample for our study consisted of 684 persons. Although we are aware of the limitations of our
sampling method, leaning on the argumentation of Lim and Lee (2011), we maintain that data collected
from a wide range of industries in such a way (e.g., Brotheridge and Lee 2002; Eddleston, Veiga, and
Powell 2006) are of suitable quality for quantitative studies (e.g., Smith et al. 1997).
Of the sample population, 60% was male and 40% female, with an average age of 35 (SD = 10.1)
ranging between 19 and 70 years of age. Eighty-four percent were employed on a permanent basis
and 16% were temporary employees. The mean years of employment of the survey participants was 6
(SD = 6.4) ranging from 1 to a maximum of 45 years.
Instrumentation
Principle component analyses using verimax rotation were employed in order to ensure construct
validity. In addition, reliability tests using SPSS were employed to all three scales.
Work incivility scale (WIS)
The work incivility scale (WIS) developed by Cortina et al. (2001) was used in order to
measure incivility perceptions. The scale consists of seven items on a five point Likert scale
ranging from 1 = Nearly neverto 5 = Most of the time.Participants were asked During
the past year have you been in a situation where any of your supervisors or co-workers:
Sample items were Put you down or was condescending to you?and Paid little attention to
your statement or showed little interest in your opinion?
While the original scale measured incivility in a period of five years, we adopted the approach of
Chen et al. (2013); Itzkovich (2014); Taylor, Bedeian, and Kluemper (2012); Walsh et al. (2012), and
Ferguson (2012) of measuring incivility in a period of one year. The final Cronbach alpha of the WIS
scale was equal to .870.
Organizational horizontal solidarity
The items measuring solidarity toward co-workers are based on Lindenberg (1998)and the mea-
surement refers to consistent cooperative behavior across the following five social dilemma situations
(Koster and Sanders 2004; Sanders, Schyns, and Koster 2003): common good situation, sharing
situation, need situation, breach temptation, and mishap situation (Lindenberg 1998). Based on
Koster (2005), we used the following five items to measure solidarity toward co-workers: (1) I help
my co-workers to finish tasks; (2) I am willing to help my co-workers when things go wrong
unexpectedly; (3) I apologize to my co-workers when I have made a mistake; (4) I try to divide
the pleasant and unpleasant tasks equally between myself and my co-workers; and (5) I live up to
agreements with my co-workers(Koster 2005:127). The Cronbachs alpha of the constructed
horizontal solidarity index was .815.
Employee deviance
Bennett and Robinsons(2000) organizational workplace deviance scale was used to measure work-
place deviance. The scale consists of twelve items on a seven point Likert scale. The scale range from
1=neverto 7 = every day.Participants were asked, During the past year how often have you?
Sample items were Taken property from work without permissionor Discussed confidential
company information with an unauthorized person.
Principle component analyses produced two separate sub-factors. Four items collapsed into the
property deviance sub-factor. A sample item for this sub factor is Falsified a receipt to get
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reimbursed for more money than you spent on business expenses.Four additional items pertain to
the second factor, which could be identified as production deviance. A sample item for this factor is
Spent too much time fantasizing or daydreaming instead of working.
Four items were redundant due to insufficient loading to one of the factors or due to lack of
consistency with the content of the factor. Items that were excluded are: Used an illegal drug or
consumed alcohol on the job,”“Put little effort into your work,”“Neglected to follow your bosss
instructions,and Littered your work environment.
Other researches also used a modified version of the scale (Dunlop and Lee 2004; Mount, Ilies,
and Johnson 2006) yet additionally for verification we used principle component analysis and
confirmatory factor analysis to support the revised version of the scale
Confirmatory factor analyzes (CFA) for the two sub factors yielded acceptable fit results (χ
2
=
89.862
[df = 18]
,p= .000; CFI = .920; RMSEA = .076). Specifically, the results showed significant but
moderate correlation between the two sub factors (r = .77, p< .001). The generally positive and
moderately high correlation between the dimensions suggests that the factors are, to some extent,
independent of each other. The final Cronbachs alpha of the production sub factor was equal to .636
for the production deviance sub-factor and .643 for the property deviance sub factor.
Findings
Descriptive statistics and correlations are presented in Table 1 which displays correlations between
research variables. As shown in table 1, incivility is negatively correlated with horizontal solidarity
(r = .16, p< .01). Moreover, horizontal solidarity is negatively correlated with property deviance
(r = .26, p< .01) and production deviance (r = .08, p< .05). Additionally, incivility is positively
correlated with both property deviance (r = .28, p< .01) and production deviance (r = .22, p< .01).
Structural equation modeling (SEM) was employed to test the research hypotheses. Data used for
the SEM were analyzed with the maximum likelihood method. Three fit indices were computed in
order to evaluate the model fit: χ
2
(df)(p> .05), CFI (> 0.9), and RMSEA (< .08). The measurement
model includes the following factors: The WIS, latent variable with seven observed variables;
organizational co-workers solidarity, latent variable with five observed variables; and organizational
deviance, general latent factor composed of two sub-factors: production deviance, latent variable with
four observed variables, and property deviance, latent variable with four observed variables.
The path model was constructed as follows: paths were specified between solidarity from co-
workers and workplace incivility (latent variable) and between solidarity from co-workers and
Table 1. Descriptive statistics and correlations.
MSD 1 2 3 45
(1) Organizational horizontal solidarity 4.12 .64 (.815)
(1) Incivility 1.72 .70 .16** (.870)
(1) Property deviance 1.34 .67 .26** .28** (.643)
(1) Production deviance 2.26 1.14 .08* .22** .43** (.636)
(1) Gender 1.4 .491 .03 .04 -.00 .02
(1) Age
35.74 10.13 .6 .04 -.13** -.12** .02
N= 684. Gender coded 1 = male, 2 = female. Coefficient alpha for each scale is in parentheses .*p< .05 **p< .01
DEVIANT BEHAVIOR 7
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workplace deviance. In addition a path was specified between workplace incivility and workplace
deviance.
The goodness of fit of the data to the model yielded good fit results (χ
2
= 413.839
[df = 161]
,p=
.000; CFI = .940; RMSEA = .048). Specifically, the results showed a negative (moderate) significant
coefficient between solidarity from co-workers and WIS (β=.33, p< .001), and a positive
(moderate) significant coefficient between WIS and the workplace deviance factor (β=.39, p< .001).
In addition results showed a negative (low) significant coefficient between solidarity and
employee deviance (β=.12, p< .005).
In total, as illustrated in Figure 2, solidarity from co-workers explained 11% of the incivility
variances, and both solidarity and incivility explained 20% of the variance of employee deviance.
We added age and gender as control variables to the model. However, for visual clarity the results
are presented in Table 2 but not in Figure 2.
The results presented in Table 2 indicate that only age correlated negatively with employees
deviance. Age added only 2% of employee deviance to the variance explained by solidarity and
incivility. Older employees conduct fewer deviant acts than younger employees do.
Additional SEM analysis indicated that incivility explained 18% of the variance in the property
deviance sub-factor, but only 9% of the variance in the production deviance sub-factor. Specifically,
it was found that incivility is significantly positively connected with the property deviance sub-factor
(β= .38, p< .01) and positively connected with the production deviance sub-factor (β= .27, p< .0.1),
Figure 2. The structural model, with standardized parameter estimates (N= 684). *p< .05; **p< .01; ***p< .001.
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while solidarity is not significantly correlated with either the property deviance or the production
deviance sub-factors. These results are illustrated in Figure 3.
The goodness of fit of the data to the model yielded sufficient fit results (χ
2
= 546.815,
df = 162
,p=
.000; CFI = .908; RMSEA = .059).
Discussion
The current study was aimed at measuring the relationship between co-workerssolidarity, incivility
and deviant behavior of employees. According to the path model results, increased levels of co-
workerssolidarity were associated with lower levels of perceptions of incivility. An additional path
analysis result associated high levels of incivility with increased levels of deviant behavior, and higher
levels of co-workerssolidarity with lower levels of deviant behavior.
Table 2. Connections (Standardized estimates) between age, gender, and model variables.
Age Gender
Incivility n.s n.s.
Deviant behavior .17*** n.s.
Solidarity n.s n.s.
n.s = not significant.
Figure 3. Path model for the prediction of property and production deviance sub-factors with standardized estimates
shown. (N = 684). *p< .05; **p< .01; ***p< .001.
DEVIANT BEHAVIOR 9
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One inference from these findings can be that those who experience lower levels of co-workers
solidarity report more incivility. These findings verify the idea of Cropanzano and Mitchel (2005)
who suggested that organizational and team support plays an important role in the social exchange
process in organizations. In their view, alongside the economic outcomes of social exchange in
organizations, there are also socioemotional outcomes. They posit that socioemotional outcomes
convey a message that a person is valued or treated with dignity. Drawing on their notion, it is
plausible to infer that lack of co-workerssolidarity conveys the opposite message, which is perceived
by the target of this message as uncivil behavior.
Moreover, our findings indicate that perceptions of incivility lead targets of the uncivil act to
behave in a deviant manner toward their organization. Drawing on SET, targets of incivility are
expected to retaliate. Yet our model suggests that those who perceive their co-workersbehavior as
uncivil retaliate against the organization. This line of thought is in line with the findings of Sakurai
and Jex (2012) concerning the impact of co-workersincivility on employeeswork effort. There are
two possible explanations to this finding:
First, according to SET, the exchange process is expected to rely on maximization of value for the
different sides of the exchange (Cropanzano and Mitchel 2005; Paillé et al. 2015). Drawing on this
logic it is safe to assume that negative and overt reciprocity toward co-workers might jeopardize
future value maximization. Therefore, also in accordance with the logic of Andersson and Pearson
(1999), retaliation mightin such cases be directed at a third party as a secondary spiral
mechanism (Schilpzand et al. 2015), which reduces the risk embedded in retaliating against the
direct offender who was part of the initial exchange. Therefore probably especially in negative
reciprocation that involves risk; the reciprocity would be redirected to covert channels, possibly
involving additional third parties that were not part of the initial reciprocity.
Another competing explanation might be that co-workerslack of solidarity is perceived by
targets as lack of organizational support. The organization, which is supposed to maintain a positive
work environment (Alias et al. 2012), did not supply workers with a defense shield by refraining
from dealing with co-workers not behaving in a cooperative manner (i.e., renouncing solidarity). On
that basis, the targets of such lack of support choose to reciprocate negatively against the organiza-
tion. Such conceptualization is also supported by Sakurai and Jex (2012) who found that the
willingness to reciprocate co-workersincivility is channeled to the organization through decreased
work effort.
The negative connection between co-workerssolidarity and deviant behavior is explained through
the same path but from a different direction. Co-workerssolidarity can be perceived as a valuable
socioemotional resource, and therefore those who anticipate such solidarity will not act in a deviant
manner, as such deviance reflects inappropriate reciprocity, especially in cases in which the deviance is
expressed through reduced work effort (i.e., production deviance). In such cases (i.e., reduced effort), in
addition to damaging production, the deviant employee overloads other co-workers who have to cope
with the surplus tasks. Such behavior, in turn, might be perceived as lack of solidarity.
Additional SEM analysis indicated that incivility explained 18% of the variance in the property
deviance sub-factor, but only 9% of the variance in the production deviance sub-factor. This finding
could be explained via the structure of our sample: Nearly half of our sample (N= 344) consist of
employees who are holding lower employment status in terms of income and job security.
1
This goes
along with Hollinger (1986) who posit that employees who have nothing to lose and are less
committed to the organization choose property deviance. Therefore, lower employment status
employees who have less to lose if caught and are emotionally detached from the organization
choose property deviance although it is more risky and can lead to termination of work.
1
They either answered noto the question Are you a permanent employee in the organization?and/or yesto the question
Are you a working under a contactor?In addition, they answered and/or answered much below average, below averageto
the following question: The average monthly household expenses in Israel today amount to 13.800 NIS. What are your average
monthly household expenses?
10 Y. ITZKOVICH AND S. HEILBRUNN
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In addition as a complementary explanation it might be that as property deviance is more covert
comparing to production deviance, targets (and not only those holding low employment status) of
incivility prefer property deviance as means of retaliation. Taken together these arguments explain the
tendency toward property deviance comparing to the option to retaliate by damaging production.
The present work features several limitations and further directions for future research that
warrant mentioning. First, it should be noted that the cross-sectional nature of the data can prevent
definitive statements about causality. Indeed, some relationships in the model are likely reciprocal.
For example, the analysis implies that co-workerssolidarity impact perceptions of incivility, how-
ever, it is equally plausible that those who exhibit incivility from different sources are prone to
monitor their enviroment. Rousseau (1995) described a similar mechanism concerning psychological
contract violation. Therefore, they perceive their co-workersbehavior as projecting less solidarity.
Second, our model does not relate to vertical solidarity (Koster and Sanders 2006). Incivility is
mainly inflicted by managers (Pearson and Porath 2005); therefore, one would expect that it impacts
the vertical solidarity, namely the solidarity of employees toward supervisors that in turn demon-
strates the opposite side of the above suggested continuum of leadermember exchange. Future
studies should investigate the role of vertical solidarity in detail.
Third, this study was conducted in a single country; therefore, the results cannot necessarily be
generalized to other cultures. We agree with Schilpzand et al. (2015) who did call for the investiga-
tion of incivility in new cultures since it is likely that that cultural differences influence antecedents
and outcome of behaviors such as solidarity and work-place deviance.
Fourth, because we used a single-source, self-report survey measures for all of the constructs in
the research model; common method variance is a concern. Indeed, as is often the case with cross-
sectional designs that employ self-report perceptual measures, it is possible that some of the
relationships identified arose from common method variance. Nevertheless, targets of incivility
have been identified as a legitimate source for understanding the extent and impact the phenomenon
in many academic papers (Aquino and Thau 2009; Keashly 2001)
Fifth, based on factor analysis, we used a shorter version of deviant behavior scale. Future
research should utilize this version in order to improve its reliability and validity.
Last, the explained variance of incivility and deviant behavior ranged between 1120%. Moreover,
some of the beta values were relativly small. This may indicate that the model tested here should be
expanded in future research by using additional variables that could be related to deviant behavior
such as vertical solidarity, solidarity toward co-workers, and additional antecedents taken from the
literature focusing on organizational victimization. Organziational victimization theory posits that
organizational variables, environmental variables, and personel characteristics can predict victimiza-
tion (Aquino and Bradfield 2000; Aquino and Bommer 2003). As incivility can be treated as a sub-
category of victimization (Aquino and Thau 2009), it is plausible to utilize variables from victimiza-
tion conceptualization for studying implications and antecedents of incivility.
Conclusions, practical, and methodological implications
Despite its limitations, this study elaborates on previous studies by showing, for the first time, the
potential role of co-workerssolidarity as an antecedent of incivility. As little is known about
antecedents of perceived incivility (Schilpzand et al. 2015) this research adds to the understanding
of incivility. In addition, our findings illustrate an extended tit for tat exchange relationship between
individuals and organization. Moreover, data related to the potential deviant outcomes of incivility
are relatively rare. Only two researchers investigated the relationship between incivility and
employee deviance, yet both focused on specific forms of incivility: e- incivility (Lim and Teo
2009) or co-workers incivility (Sakurai and Jex 2012).
From a methodological point of view, this study introduced a shorter version of Robinson and
Bennetts (1995) workplace deviance scale, which collaborates with the authorsinitial division of
property and production deviance.
DEVIANT BEHAVIOR 11
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Lastly, this research was conducted in the Mediterranean region. To date, only scant research
investigated incivility in a Mediterranean culture (e.g. Itzkovich 2014).
Some studies found support for the value of team-based interference for decreasing supervisory
uncivil behaviors (Leiter et al. 2011, 2012; Spence et al. 2012). As the current research investigated
perceived incivility from different sourcesmanagers, peers, and subordinatesit is plausible to
assume that enhancing solidarity from co-workers would reduce incivility at least to some extent due
to two main reasons. First, solidarity from co-workers would eliminate co-workersincivility, and
secondly it would support the targets of customersand managersincivility.
Our study demonstrates the need to further investigate solidarity and incivility on one continuum
that in turn influence the exchange relations with the organization as well as the potential range of
implications. In order to examine the statement that both solidarity and incivility are behaviors located
on the same continuum future studies should investigate complementary sources and objectives of
these behaviors, thereby allowing to evaluate the actuality of the continuum notion.Yet, in order to
perform such an evaluation it is necessary to revise the current measurement of incivility allowing for a
clear distinction between different positions of perpetrators for all scale items.
Our study focused on the implications of incivility on deviance towards the organization, future
study should include also impacts on interpersonal deviance. To date there are commonly used
factors in the research of incivility (Schilpzand et al. 2015) yet the range of implications is even wider
and this research demonstrates the potential scope.
Notes on contributors
YARIV ITZKOVICH is a Lecturer for Organizational Behavior and Management at the School of Social Sciences and
Humanities, Kinneret Academic College in Israel. His research focuses on incivility and deviant forms of organiza-
tional behavior and management.
SIBYLLE HEILLBRUNN is Professor for Organizational Sociology and holds currently the position of Dean of School
of Social Sciences and Humanities at Kinneret Academic College in Israel. Her research focuses on entrepreneurship
and on forms of organizational behavior including perspectives of diversity and multi-culturalism.
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Appendix A
Research instruments.
Item Scale Reference
(1) My co-workers help me to finish tasks (1) Strongly
disagree
(2) Somewhat
disagree
(3) Partly agree
and partly
disagree
(4) Somewhat
agree
(5) Strongly
agree
Koster, F. 2005. For the time being. Accounting for
inconclusive findings concerning the effects of temporary
employment relationships on solidary behavior of
employees
PhD Thesis Printed by Universal Press, Veenendaal.
(1) My co-workers are willing to help me
when things go wrong unexpectedly
(1) My co-workers apologize to me when
they have made a mistake
(1) My co-workers divide the pleasant and
unpleasant tasks equally between them
and me
(1) My co-workers live up to agreements with me
Incivility
(1) Put you down or was condescending to
you?
(1) Nearly never
(2) Rarely ever
(3) Sometimes
(4) Often
(5) Most of the
time
Cortina, L. M., V. J. Magley, J. H. Williams, and T. D.
Langhout, R. D. (2001). Incivility in the Workplace: Incidence
and Impact.Journal of Occupational Health Psychology 6(1):
64.
(1) Paid little attention to your statement or
showed little interest in your opinion
(1) Made demeaning or derogatory remarks
about you
(1) Addressed you in unprofessional terms,
either publicly or privately
(1) Ignored or excluded you from profes-
sional camaraderie?
(1) Doubted your judgment on a matter over
which you have responsibility
(1) Made unwanted attempts to draw you
into a discussion of personal matters?
Workplace DevianceProperty Deviance
(Continued )
DEVIANT BEHAVIOR 15
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(Continued).
Workplace Deviance- Property Deviance (1) Never
(2) Once in the
last year
(3) Twice in the
last year
(4) A couple of
times in the
last year
(5) Once a
month
(6) Once a week
(7) Every day
Bennett, R. J., & Robinson, S. L. 2000. Development of a
Measure of Workplace Deviance.Journal of Applied
Psychology 85(3): 349.
(1) Taken property from work without
permission
(1) Falsified a receipt to get reimbursed for
more money than you spent on business
expenses
(1) Discussed confidential company informa-
tion with an unauthorized person
(1) Dragged out work in order to get
overtime
Workplace Deviance - Production Deviance
(1) Spent too much time fantasizing or day-
dreaming instead of working
(1) Taken an additional or a longer break
than is acceptable at your workplace
(1) Come in late to work without permission
(1) Intentionally worked slower than you
could have worked
16 Y. ITZKOVICH AND S. HEILBRUNN
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... These non-balancing reactions could provoke a shift of the target of harmful behaviors from the parties involved in the original relationships to the organization (Arthur et al., 2011;Pearson et al., 2001;Sakurai & Jex, 2012). Indeed, employees who experience incivility tend to blame the lack of support from the organization, causing the rise of the desire to negatively reciprocate also toward the organization (Itzkovich & Heilbrunn, 2016;Meier & Semmer, 2013). Thus, this evolution of incivility, labeled as the "secondary spiral" of incivility (Andersson & Pearson, 1999), represents a mutation of negative reciprocity from a direct mechanism of dyadic relationships to an indirect or generalized one. ...
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... Consequently, organizational politics inevitably brings about a greater sense of distrust, conflicts, misunderstanding, and negative feeling towards others, thereby damaging social exchange relationship among the employees (Karim, 2021;Karim et al., 2021). The poor social exchanges can stimulate counterproductive behavior , particularly workplace incivility (Itzkovich & Heilbrunn, 2016). Moreover, Torkelson et al. (2016), based on social power theory, showed that power position plays a key role in instigating uncivil behaviors and described incivility as a means of exercising power. ...
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