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How leaders perceive employee deviance: Blaming victims while excusing favorites

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Abstract

Drawing from theories of attribution and perception, we posit that employees who are victims of rudeness are themselves (inappropriately) evaluated by leaders as being interpersonally deviant. We further theorize that employees who are themselves rude to others at work are evaluated negatively, but not when they have high-quality relationships with leaders or are seen as high performers. We tested our predictions across 4 studies. Our first study included 372 leader–follower pairs. Our second study extended to dyadic interactions among employees by using an employee roster method, resulting in paired data from 149 employees (2,184 dyads) across 5 restaurant locations. Our third and fourth studies utilized a policy-capturing design in which individuals provided performance evaluations for fictitious employees. We find that victims of rudeness are viewed by leaders as deviant, and that leaders are less likely to perceive rude employees as deviant when these perpetrators are seen as having high levels of leader–member exchange (LMX) or performance.

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... We propose that high in-role performance may distort the influence of incivility, such that prospective reference providers may apply greater weight to in-role performance, which could diminish the strength of incivility as a signal. Attesting to this possibility, Kluemper, Taylor, Bowler, Bing, and Halbesleben (2019) found that rude employees were less likely to be viewed as interpersonally deviant if they were high performers. It stands to reason that such "competent jerks," using Casciaro and Lobo's (2005) label, are in a better position to dodge any potential negative costs to their reputation from being uncivil. ...
... Our work brings to light potential negative downstream consequences for behaving badly in organizations; however, these consequences seem to be evaded to the extent that the instigator has high in-role performance. This work complements Kluemper et al. (2019) by showing that how people react to colleague incivility is dependent on the instigator's performance. Not only are high-performing jerks less likely to be labeled a deviant (Kluemper et al., 2019), they are also more likely to be recommended for future employment opportunities compared to their underperforming counterparts. ...
... This work complements Kluemper et al. (2019) by showing that how people react to colleague incivility is dependent on the instigator's performance. Not only are high-performing jerks less likely to be labeled a deviant (Kluemper et al., 2019), they are also more likely to be recommended for future employment opportunities compared to their underperforming counterparts. Our findings suggest the need for theoretical development to better understand the nuanced consequences instigators may face, including both positive and negative consequences. ...
Article
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To prevent workplace incivility, scholars encourage organizations to use reference checks to help eliminate uncivil applicants. However, under certain conditions, reference providers may be willing to recommend their rude colleagues for employment. We test this possibility by studying willingness to recommend, which captures a willingness to serve as a professional reference for a colleague. Based on signaling theory, we hypothesized that colleague incivility is negatively related to willingness to recommend, but this relationship is moderated by colleague in-role performance and job-level factors. In study 1, multilevel modeling of multisource data revealed that colleague incivility negatively related to willingness to recommend, but troublingly, this relationship was weaker among colleagues who were high rather than low performers, regardless of job-level moderators. In study 2, we tested whether organizations can intervene and encourage potential reference providers to pay greater attention to incivility. Regression results showed that providers placed greater weight on their colleague’s incivility in relation to willingness to recommend when signals were sent that the hiring organization was unwilling to sacrifice civility for top performance. Our research helps illuminate when incivility instigators are likely to be recommended for employment and demonstrates a way to maximize the use of reference checks for incivility prevention.
... Employee deviance is deliberate (or intentional) act by an employee of an organization which causes harm to his or her organization more specifically to the workplace, the members and/or the job processes [8]. Employee deviance typically violates institutionalized norms of the organization and sometimes that of the State in which the organization is domiciled and in so doing, threatens the well-being of the organization and the entire society [9]. ...
... For example, Iqbal and Rasheed [17] using structural equation-modeling (SEM) technique found that mistreated employees involved in negative reactions and these reactions does not only contained deviating behavior, it also influences them emotionally. Emotional abuses such as: frustration induced abuse [23], abuse and personal control leading to counterproductive work behaviour [8] and abuse leading to loafing behaviours [16] which generally lead to a planned deviance as underpinned by Ajzen's [24] theory of planned behaviour are detrimental to organizational wellbeing. These antecedents may be byproducts of psychological contract breach if not moderated in the organization. ...
... Power distance as a product of leadership equally creates imbalance due to superior's interactional injustice [8]. For instance Kluemper et al found that victims of rudeness are viewed by leaders as deviant, and that leaders are less likely to perceive rude employees as deviant when these perpetrators are seen as having high levels of leader-member exchange (LMX) or performance. ...
Article
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Employees have expectations from their organizations; whether they are written, contractual, or not, these expectations have an equally employee outcome such as employee deviance. Indices indicate that employee deviance is on the increase especially in the organized private sector; thus, this study evaluated employee deviance as by-product of psychological contract and power distance among a sample of employees (289) from insurance organizations in Nigeria with an average age of 34.50 years and standard deviation of 3.50. The study sought to ascertain the relationship between psychological contract and employee deviance and whether perceptions of power distance moderated this relationship. Psychological contract inventory (PCI), Power distance scale adapted from CVSCALE Five-dimensional scale of individual cultural values and Workplace deviant behaviour scale were utilized for data collection. The result of data analysis indicated that the adjusted R 2 for step 1 is .24 at F(42.06) p < .01. In the second model, the adjusted R 2 is .26 and R change is .002. This R change was significant at F (33.76), df = 285 p < .01. The Beta coefficient for model 2 shows that psychological contract significantly and negatively predicted employee deviant behaviours at Beta value, thus, the first hypothesis was confirmed at β =-.68, p < .01. Similarly, power distance significantly and positively predicted employee deviant behaviour at β coefficient value of .34, p < .01, thus, the second hypothesis was also confirmed. Also, the third hypothesis where power distance moderated the relationship between psychological contract and employee deviant behaviour was confirmed at β =.27, p < .01. The study concludes that organizations whose interests do not account for the expectations of their employees are at risk of higher levels of employees' deviance either as byproduct of psychological contract violations or as a retaliatory behaviour.
... In a similar tenor that one of the participants did not want to cause workplace conflict in the above theme where an offending workplace smell required medication, another participant (a female of Indian origin) recounted the following specifically about reaching out to HR for help with a food-based smell: "The HR staff is nice but since I, being the only immigrant in this workplace, I don't want to report that and make any enemies". Supporting the participant's choice to not report her difficulty with a smell in order to avoid a conflict that would potentially 'make enemies', Kluemper et al. (2019) found the victims of workplace mistreatment often are viewed by their leaders as the deviant party. We may be observing a preemptive coping mechanism by the participants to avoid being perceived as troublemakers in the workforce. ...
Conference Paper
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This paper explores the phenomenon of perceived misfit and feelings of being ostracized that legal, foreign-born workers experience from odors in the American workplace. Drawing from existing literature in the misfit and workplace ostracism realm, we provide a framework for the study and subsequent analysis. With a sample of 22 foreign-born workers currently employed in the American workforce, we used semi-structured interviews to enhance the understanding of the unspoken but lived experiences of this population when they first encounted the culture and smells of the American workplace. We found that odors with cultural and religious significance (i.e., cooked meat smells for workers practicing Hinduism from India and cooked pork smells for workers practicing Islam) result in perceptions of misfit and ostracism. Additionally, our findings suggest that foreign-born workers will experience not only cognitive dissonance from food-based odors but also display physical symptoms such as nausea (sometimes with vomiting) and headaches/migraines (sometimes requiring medication). Beyond physical and psychological symptoms, we uncovered that foreign-born workers often choose to not involve Human Resources or their managers despite decreases of performance and other negative consequences of culturally offensive odors. After discussion, we suggest implications/directions for future research.
... We recruited 543 working adults from various industries and jobs whose first language was English and who had a direct supervisor via Prolific (Peer et al., 2017; see also Chen et al., 2019) for a multiwave study with 2 weeks between waves to minimize attrition (see Kluemper et al., 2019;Mawritz et al., 2017). Data collected via Prolific and MTurk are as reliable as traditional methods (Behrend et al., 2011;Buhrmester et al., 2011). ...
Article
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The majority of theory and research on empowering leadership to date has focused on how empowering leader behaviors influence employees, portraying those behaviors as almost exclusively beneficial. We depart from this predominant consensus to focus on the potential detriments of empowering leadership for employees. Drawing from the social cognitive theory of morality, we propose that empowering leadership can unintentionally increase employees’ unethical pro-organizational behavior (UPB), and that it does so by increasing their levels of moral disengagement. Specifically, we propose that hindrance stressors create a reversing effect, such that empowering leadership increases (vs. decreases) moral disengagement when hindrance stressors are higher (vs. lower). Ultimately, we argue for a positive or negative indirect effect of empowering leadership on UPB through moral disengagement. We find support for our predictions in both a time-lagged field study (Study 1) and a scenario-based experiment using an anagram cheating task (Study 2). We thus highlight the impact that empowering leadership can have on unethical behavior, providing answers to both why and when the dark side of empowering leadership behavior occurs. (PsycInfo Database Record (c) 2022 APA, all rights reserved)
... Examining the mechanism of over-attributions is important because it shifts the responsibility from the target's behavior (performance) to the supervisor's interpretation (biased attribution) of the behavior. Second, scholars (e.g., Cortina et al., 2018;Kluemper et al., 2019) have called for more research that examines mechanisms of abusive supervision. While some researchers argue that supervisors intentionally prey on certain targets (e.g., perpetrator predation as an explanation for mistreatment behaviors, Cortina et al., 2018), we suggest that the relationship is in fact more complex. ...
Article
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To understand the relationship between employee performance and abusive reactions from supervisors, we examine the role of supervisors’ attributions about employees’ performance. Drawing on the fundamental attribution error, we argue that supervisors over-attribute lower levels of performance to employees’ internal factors (i.e., conscientiousness), which then triggers higher levels of abusive supervision. In Study 1, we collected data from 189 supervisor-employee dyads. The results indicated that lower levels of supervisor-rated employee performance related to supervisor biased attributions to employee conscientiousness, which in turn resulted in employee-rated abusive supervision. In Study 2, we combined a recall task with a vignette design to replicate and extend our findings. We demonstrated that after adjusting for the baseline level of employee conscientiousness, supervisors over-attributed poor performance to employee conscientiousness, and then engage in higher levels of abusive behaviors. Further, consistent with premises of fundamental attribution error, we found that in the absence of information about who was at fault for poor performance, supervisors over-attributed poor performance to internal factors (employee) as compared to external factors (software malfunction). Taken together, our findings demonstrate that biased attributions about employee conscientiousness help explain the relationship between employee performance and abusive supervision.
... In the resourceallocating context, team leaders allocate more resources, tangible (e.g., delegated tasks) and intangible (e.g., trust and emotional support), to high-LMX members while allocating limited resources to low-LMX members (Liao, Liu, Li, & Song, 2019). In the decision-making context, high-LMX members are also favored by team leaders in performance evaluation and the judgment of deviant behaviors in such a way that their performance is always overestimated (Ma & Qu, 2010) and their deviant behavior is always underestimated (Kluemper, Taylor, Bowler, Bing, & Halbesleben, 2019). Thus, in teams with varying LMX quality, high-LMXRS members are more likely to face differentiated treatment from supervisors during resource-allocating and decision-making procedures. ...
Article
Our study focused on the low leader–member exchange (LMX) minority under the LMX differentiation context. Specifically, based on the group engagement model, we proposed that high LMX relational separation (LMXRS) impairs subordinates’ organizational altruism behaviors through undermining their procedural justice perception; furthermore, such an effect is stronger for low-LMX members in low overall LMX differentiation groups. Using data collected from 4 companies in China that included 49 teams and 273 employees, we demonstrated that high LMXRS entails a lower procedural justice perception and fewer follow-up altruism behaviors, especially for low-LMX members. Moreover, the three-way interaction result showed that the detrimental effect of high LMXRS on low-LMX members’ procedural justice perception and follow-up organizational altruism behaviors is stronger when the group-level LMX differentiation is low. We discussed the theoretical and practical implications of these findings.
... Fehr, Fulmer, & Keng, in press;Landay, Harms, & Crede, 2019;Lee & Duffy, 2019). Indeed, the upsurge of research in the dark side of work experiences has brought great advancements to our understanding of the personal and contextual factors that contribute to and stem from bad behaviors (for exemplar reviews see: Howard, Cogswell, & Smith, in press;Kluemper, Taylor, Bowler, Bing, & Halbesleben, 2019;Mackey, McAllister, Ellen, & Carson, in press;Mitchell, Reynolds, & Trevino, in press;Smith, Hill, Wallace, Recendes, & Judge, 2018). ...
... This is an important stage that does not follow the same pattern for leaders and followers. As recent research on employee deviance has highlighted, leaders may be less accurate when assessing workplace mistreatment or even unable to detect it due to limited and screened information (e.g., Kluemper, Taylor, Bowler, Bing, & Halbesleben, 2019). ...
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A growing body of literature has focused on transgressions in the workplace and more recently, with respect to leader-follower relationships. Despite the important implications of leader and follower transgressions and relationship repair for work outcomes, there has not been a systematic review that examines the broad spectrum of leader and follower transgressions and most importantly adopts a dynamic relational process perspective. We view transgressions as key events in leader-follower relationships that trigger re-evaluation of the relationship, relationship repair processes and influence work outcomes. The purpose of this review is threefold. First, to provide a state-of-the-science review of the growing literature. Second, to offer a critical analysis of leader and follower transgressions in terms of conceptualization, methodological issues and theoretical underpinnings. Third, to outline a research agenda addressing leader-follower transgressions, relationship repair processes and outcomes based on relationship science.
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