PhD thesis: a PhD thesis.
Workplace Aggressive Behaviors: Three Essays
Université de Lausanne, Faculté des hautes études commerciales
Abstract¦This thesis examines through three essays the role of the social context and of people concern for justice in explaining workplace aggressive behaviors.¦In the first essay, I argue that a work group instrumental climate - a climate emphasizing respect of organizational procedures -deters employees to manifest counterproductive work behaviors through informal sanctions (i.e., socio-emotional disapproval) they anticipate from it for misbehaving. A contrario, a work group affective climate - a climate concerned about others' well-being - leads employees to infer less informal sanctions and thus indirectly facilitates counterproductive work behaviors. I additionally expect these indirect effects to be conditional on employees' level of conscientiousness and agreeableness. Cross-level structural equations on cross-sectional data obtained from 158 employees in 26 work groups supported my expectations. By promoting collective responsibility for the respect of organizational rules and by knowing what their work group considers threatening their well-being, leaders may be able to prevent counterproductive work behaviors.¦Adopting an organizational justice perspective, the second essay provides a theoretical explanation of why and how collective deviance can emerge in a collective. In interdependent situations, employees use justice perceptions to infer others' cooperative intent. Even if moral transgressions (e.g., injustice) are ambiguous, their repetition and configuration within a team can lead employees to assign blame and develop collective cynicism toward the transgressor. Over time, collective cynicism - a shared belief about the transgressor's intentional lack of integrity - progressively constrains the diversity of employees' response to blame and leads collective deviance to emerge. This essay contributes to workplace deviance research by offering a theoretical framework for investigations of the phenomenon at the collective level. It organizations effort to manage and prevent deviance should consider.¦In the third essay, I solve an apparent contradiction in the literature showing that justice concerns sometimes lead employees to react aggressively to injustice and sometimes to refrain from it. Drawing from just-world theory, a cross-sectional field study and an experiment provide evidence that retaliatory tendencies following injustice are moderated by personal and general just-world beliefs. Whereas a high personal just-world belief facilitates retaliatory reactions to injustice, a high general just-world belief attenuates such reactions. This essay uncovers a dark side of personal just-world belief and a bright one of general just-world belief, and participates to extend just-world theory to the working context.
work group climate , collective cynicism , organizational justice , just-world beliefs , workplace aggression , counterproductive work behaviors , workplace deviance
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