This study focuses on the importance of the social context within organizations and investigated workplace ostracism, perceptions of fairness, organizational citizenship behavior, deviant behavior, and in-role behavior. Although there are a few studies on the consequences of workplace ostracism, research has yet to include boundary conditions for the effects of workplace ostracism with its behavioral outcomes. The study sampled 246 employees in two waves and the study found workplace ostracism to be negatively related with organizational citizenship behavior and in-role behavior while being positively related with workplace deviant behavior. Moreover, perceptions of fairness was found to significantly moderate the relationships between workplace ostracism with organizational citizenship behavior and workplace deviant behavior. Therefore, this study suggests that workplace ostracism leads to unfavorable workplace behaviors and that fairness perceptions can mitigate the negative effects of workplace ostracism on its behavioral outcomes.
본 연구는 기업 조직 내에서 일어나는 사회적 상황의 중요성을 토대로 직장 내 따돌림, 공정성, 조직시 민행동, 일탈행동, 그리고 역할행동을 연구 하였다. 직장 내 따돌림이 야기한 결과와 관련된 연구들은 어느 정도 나와 있지만, 아직까지 이러한 연구들은 직장 내 따돌림이 야기 시키는 행동적 결과의 조절 변수 효과를 포함 하고 있지 않다. 본 연구는 근로자 246명을 대상으로 종단 적 연구 되었으며, 연구 결과에서는 직장 내 따돌림이 조직시민행동과 역할행동 사이의 부적 관계를 보여준 반면에, 직장 내 따돌림과 일탈행동은 정적 관계를 갖는 것으로 나타났다. 더 나아가, 공정성은 따돌림이 갖는 조직시민행동과 일탈행동 사이의 부적 관계를 줄일 수 있는 것으로 나타났다. 따라서 공정성 인지도가 직장 내 따돌림이 야기 시키는 부정적인 행동적 결과를 완화 시킬 수 있다는 것을 본 연구에서 제시하고 있다.
Social interactions among organizational members is an essential facet of individual and organizational performance (LePine, Hansom, Borman, & Motowidlo, 2000; Sundstrom, McIntyre, Halfhill, & Richards, 2000). The nature of work is becoming more reliant on teamwork thereby increasing the significance of interpersonal relationships. In this perspective, establishing and maintaining positive interpersonal relationships among organizational members is critical. Feeling “out of the loop,” excluded, ignored, or shunned is a common phenomenon that individuals experience across all social contexts (Williams, 1997). The workplace is also a social context where ostracism has been creating some negative effects. Subsequently, research on workplace ostracism has been gaining some attention (Robinson, O’Reilly, & Wang, 2013) as it has been found to negatively affect individuals and result in unfavorable workplace attitudes and behaviors. Therefore, it is pertinent for organizations to address this issue and provide ways to prevent workplace ostracism as well as to mitigate the effects of workplace ostracism on workplace attitudes and behaviors.
Previous research has found workplace ostracism to be associated with numerous job attitudes and workplace behaviors such as job satisfaction, organizational commitment, aggressive behavior, and job withdrawal (Ferris, Brown, Berry, & Lian, 2008; Twenge, Baumeister, DeWall, Ciarocco, & Bartels, 2007). Studies have consistently concluded that workplace ostracism results in negative organizational outcomes and that workplace ostracism is becoming an organizational concern as its frequency and impact have increased over the years (Robinson et al., 2013). However, empirical studies have not yet included boundary conditions that can affect the relationships between workplace ostracism with organizational outcomes.
Recently, Robinson, et al. (2013) suggested several factors such as motivation and the importance of resources that can potentially mitigate the negative effects of ostracism on workplace behaviors. In this notion, justice perceptions should be able to moderate the relationships between workplace ostracism with workplace behaviors as justice perceptions have been frequently associated with motivation. In addition, workplace ostracism has not been investigated in organizational behavior research in Korea. Hence, the purpose of this study is to investigate the effects of workplace ostracism on workplace behaviors such as organizational citizenship behavior, deviant behavior, and in-role behavior and further examine the moderating effects of fairness for those relationships.
Ostracism is a common phenomenon that humans can experience. Ostracism is a part of human life and can come in various forms such as exile and banishment on one extreme and complete end while simply being given the silent treatment or avoiding eye contact from the other end (Ferris et al., 2008). Ostracism may not always be intentional or punitive because in some cases, people may ignore others simply because they are sometimes so engaged in their own work; thereby, unintentionally ignoring people and their responses (Williams, 2001). In addition, ostracism can be non-purposeful and occur when individuals are unaware that they are engaging in behaviors that socially exclude others (Robinson et al., 2013). This form of ostracism is very common as people are oblivious of their own inactions (Sommer, Williams, Ciarocco, & Baumeister, 2001). For instance, people can forget to include another person’s email address when sending group email messages thinking that it has already been included. Ostracism may even be ambiguous because an individual may or may not know whether he or she is purposely being ostracized (Williams, 1997). In this perspective, motive may not be part of the definition as ostracism is not necessarily be intended to cause harm (Robinson et al., 2013). In contrast, ostracism can be purposeful and occur when individuals are aware of their inactions to socially engage another individual and do so intentionally in order to hurt the target or help the actor. For example, the silent treatment can be used to intentionally punish, retaliate, or hurt the target person as well as to avoid conflict, social awkwardness, or unpleasant emotions (Robinson et al., 2013). Yet, ostracism generally tends to be harmful although it may not always have malicious intentions or even without any intentions of any kind because it results to a painful experience (Williams, 1997).
Ostracism causes a painful and aversive experience. Ferris et al. (2008) argued that ostracism causes a sense of “social pain.” Studies found brain structures that were activated in physical pain were also activated after individuals experienced social rejection. Ostracism is aversive because it can simultaneously threaten the four fundamental human needs: the need for self-esteem, the need to belong, the need to control, and the need for a meaningful existence (Williams, 1997; 2001; 2007). First, ostracism affects self-esteem because when individuals are ostracized, they feel they have done something wrong or that they have some unattractive characteristics; therefore, negatively affecting their sense of self-esteem. Second, the need to belong is negatively affected because an individual will feel they are removed from a group that they want to be associated with. Third, ostracized individuals’ sense of control is undermined because others’ responses are not given to their actions and ostracized individuals do not have a way of influencing an end to the ostracism. Last, ostracism affects the sense of a meaningful existence because it represents a form of “social death” and shows how life would be if one did not exist (Sommer et al., 2001).
Authors have suggested that workplace ostracism is similar with several other constructs such as social exclusion, rejection, and organizational shunning (Anderson, 2009; Blackhart, Nelson, Knowles, & Baumeister, 2009). Consequently, workplace ostracism research has not been able to develop because determining whether workplace ostracism, social exclusion, and rejection can be distinctly differentiated or interchangeable has been difficult to conclude. However, Williams’ (2007) review suggests that there are virtually no distinctions between them, especially in terms of their consequences. Recently, Robinson et al. (2013) clarified workplace ostracism in comparison to its similar constructs and defined it as “when an individual or group omits to take actions that engage another organizational member when it is socially appropriate to do so” (p.206). They argued that the definition is comprehensive as it includes social rejection, social exclusion, ignoring, and shunning and other behaviors that involve the exclusion of appropriate behaviors. Further, they elaborated by arguing that workplace ostracism is “defined by acts of omission rather than commission; that is, it results from the purposeful or inadvertent failure to act in ways that socially engage another” (p.208).
Workplace ostracism has been argued to cause maladaptive responses. Studies have found that when individuals are excluded, it negatively affects their cognitive state. Twenge, Catanese, and Baumeister (2003) suggested that the deconstructed cognitive state results in individuals to minimize self-awareness, focus more on the present state, and have no concern for long-term goals. The effect of ostracism influences an individual’s ability to self-regulate or adapt behavior to comply with social norms; thus, ostracized individuals will have a higher tendency to engage in maladaptive behaviors (Baumeister, DeWall, Ciarocco, & Twenge, 2005). Individuals need to know how to regulate their behaviors in order to maintain the persistence and effort to perform their tasks appropriately. When individuals cannot regulate their behaviors, they will be less likely to engage in positive reciprocal behaviors such as citizenship behaviors.
Organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) is behavior that is “discretionary, not directly or explicitly recognized by the formal system, and in the aggregate promotes the efficient and effective functioning of the organization” (Organ, 1988: 4). Empirical and conceptual research suggests OCB is grouped in to two broad categories. OCBO are behaviors that benefit the organization (e.g., follows informal rules to maintain order) while OCBI are behaviors that benefit specific individuals and that indirectly through these means contribute to the organization (e.g., helps others who have been absent). In this perspective, as workplace ostracism lowers the ability to regulate one’s behavior, he or she will be less inclined to voluntarily help others and the organization; thus we propose the following:
Deviant behavior has been defined as voluntary behavior that violates organizational norms and threatens the well-being of the organization or its members, or both (Robinson & Bennett, 1995). Robinson and Bennett (1995) identified a typology of workplace deviant behavior and argued that the target (individual or organization) is important as the dimension of deviant behavior identifies a pertinent qualitative difference between the deviant behaviors. Also, deviant behavior can vary within a continuum depending on severity, from minor forms to more serious forms. In this notion, deviant behavior can be understood to be a lack of self-control or self-regulation (Baumeister & Heatherton, 1996; Marcus & Schuler, 2004). Deviant behavior is similar to a lack of self-regulation as it focuses on the short-term benefit of an individual’s actions without much consideration of long-term consequences (Baumeister & Scher, 1988). In this note, exclusion has been found to impair logical reasoning (Baumeister, Twenge, & Nuss, 2002); thereby, as workplace ostracism can negatively influences one’s ability for selfregulation, we propose the following:
According to conservation of resources theory (Hobfoll, 1989, 1998), resources are things that people value and individuals attempt to protect and sustain them. Resources are objects, personal characteristics, conditions, or energies that are valued by the individual or that serve as a means for attainment of these objects, personal characteristics, conditions or energies (Hobfoll, 1989). Studies have found that job resources can help an individual’s workplace effectiveness (Wright & Hobfoll, 2004). In general, resources are motivational and consequently affect one’s work engagement (e.g., Karatepe & Olugbade, 2009; Xanthopoulou, Bakker, Demerouti, & Schaufeli, 2007). Moreover, conservation of resources theory suggests that an individual will experience stress when there is a loss of resources, a perceived threat of loss, or a lack of resource gain following an investment of resources (Hobfoll, 1989). Thus, individuals will try to conserve their resources in order to manage the threatening conditions and prevent themselves from negative consequences and further attempt to protect their remaining resources by depersonalization, decreasing their work engagement, and reducing their performance efforts (Leung, Wu, Chen, & Young, 2011). When an individual is ostracized, it will be likely that one’s resources are reduced which then negatively affects one’s performance. In addition, according to conservation of resources theory, ostracized individuals will attempt to further conserve their resources which then can further result in lower levels of performance; hence, hypothesizing that workplace ostracism will negatively affect in-role behavior.
Perceptions of justice or fairness is an important motivator as it has been found to result in numerous attitudinal and behavioral outcomes such as job satisfaction, organizational commitment, organizational citizenship behavior, and workplace deviant behavior (Aquino, Lewis, & Bradfield, 1999; Greenberg & Scott, 1996). Based on equity theory and social exchange theory, fairness perceptions refer to the treatment an individual perceives within an organization and when an individual perceives one’s fairness perceptions to be threatened, it will be likely that one experiences discomfort and consequently engage in some form of defensive behavior. For instance, Hafer and Olson (1989) found that individuals with stronger feelings of just perceived negative outcomes to be less unfair and reported less resentment compared to those with weaker feelings of just. In this aspect, when individuals perceive fairness, they are likely to have less hostile and angry thoughts and lower aggressive urges to engage in detrimental behaviors.
A key implication of justice is that fairness addresses the basic concerns that individuals have about feelings of belongingness (Cropanzano, Byrne, Bobocel, & Rupp, 2001). Similarly, Lind (2001) suggested that justice can relate to the messages of inclusion; thereby, studies on belongingness suggest that people are motivated to achieve feelings of belongingness as it shapes how people process and react to social information and that the satisfaction of belonging is a fundamental to positive psychological adjustment (Baumeister & Leary, 1995; Williams, 2001). In this notion, workplace ostracism can be affected by justice perceptions as it affects an individual’s satisfaction with justice (van Prooijen, van den Bos, & Wilke, 2004). When ostracized individuals perceive fairness, it can lessen the negative effects of ostracism as it can address stressful events to be challenges while unfair perceptions relate stressful events to be threatening to the individual (Tomaka & Blascovich, 1994). Consequently, fairness perceptions can help individuals cope with negative and stressful events such as workplace ostracism; therefore, hypothesizing the following:
Data was collected using a two wave selfreported survey. The questionnaires were conducted as they were given in person in a sealed envelope to each respondent and later returned into a box to the person of contact. Before distributing the questionnaires, we received a list of the names of each respondent from the human resources department or directly from the person of contact and numbered each questionnaire and envelope to a specific respondent. The first wave (T1) was conducted in March and April 2013 and the questionnaires were given to 434 full time employees and 366 questionnaires were returned (84% response rate). Out of the 366 questionnaires, 343 were usable as cases with missing data were discarded. The T1 questionnaires provided demographic information and measured workplace ostracism. A two month interval was used between the first and second wave. The second wave (T2) was conducted in May and June 2013 and the questionnaires were sent to 343 employees and 281 were returned (82% response rate). Out of the 281 questionnaires, 250 were usable due to missing data. The T2 questionnaires reported fairness, organizational citizenship behavior, and deviant behavior. The average respondent was 35.2 years old (S.D. = 7.65), average tenure was 6.6 years (S.D. = 6.79), and the average team tenure was 4.1 years (S.D. = 4.61). 72.5% of the respondents were male and 86.3% had a college degree or higher. In terms of organizational position, the three largest groups were the first three organizational positions: entry level (29.4%), deputy section chief (17.3%), and deputy department head (19.2%)
Since the study was conducted in Korea, the measures were translated into Korean and were later back-translated into English by two fluent bilingual persons to validate the quality of the translations. All the measure items used a 7-point Likert scale from 1, “strongly disagree,” to 7, “strongly agree.”
2.1 Workplace ostracism
Workplace ostracism was measured with Ferris et al.’s (2008) ten-item scale. Sample items included: “Others at work treated you as if you weren’t there,” “Others avoided you at work,” and “Others ignored you at work. The reliability of this scale was .97.
Fairness was measured with Tsui, Pearce, Porter, and Tripoli’s (1997) eight-item scale. Sample items included: “The process used to determine my salary was fair,” “The process sued to make decisions about my promotions or job changes within this organization is fair,” and “The rating or evaluation I received on my last performance was fair.” The reliability of this scale was .93.
2.3 Organizational citizenship behavior
Organizational citizenship behavior was measured with Williams and Anderson’s (1991) 14-item measure. Seven items measured items measured organizational citizenship behavior toward individuals (OCBI): “Help others who have been absent,” “Goes out of the way to help new employees,” and “Takes a personal interest in other employees.” The reliability of this scale was .87. Seven items measured organizational citizenship behavior that benefited the organization as a whole (OCBO): “Gives advance notice when unable to come to work,” “Attendance at work is above the norm,” and “Takes undeserved work breaks.” The reliability of this scale was .75.
2.4 In-role behavior
In-role behavior was measured with Williams and Anderson’s (1991) seven-item measure. Sample items included: “I adequately complete my assigned duties,” “I fulfill the responsibilities specified in my job description,” “I meet the formal performance requirements of my job,” I engage in activities that will directly affect my performance evaluation.” The reliability of this scale was .95.
2.5 Deviant behavior
Deviant behavior was measured with Bennett and Robinson’s (2000) 19-item measure. Sample items for interpersonal deviant behavior included: “said something hurtful to someone at work,” “Acted rudely toward someone at work,” Publically embarrassed someone at work.” The reliability of this scale was .90. Sample items for organizational deviant behavior included: “Taken property from work without permission,” “Neglected to follow your boss’s instructions,” and “Falsified a receipt to get reimbursed for more money than you spent on business expenses.” The reliability of this scale was .80.
Descriptive statistics, correlations, and reliability estimates for the study variables are shown in Table 1. Hierarchical multiple regressions were conducted to test the hypotheses. For the analyses, the control variables were first entered followed by the predictor and moderating variables. For testing moderation, the predictor and moderating variables were mean-centered before the data analysis.