Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 148, Issue 4, pp 879–891 | Cite as

A Social Influence Interpretation of Workplace Ostracism and Counterproductive Work Behavior

  • Jun Yang
  • Darren C. Treadway


We used social network analysis to examine a theoretical model exploring why, and under what circumstances, the perpetrators’ ostracizing behaviors are accurately perceived by the target employees. In turn, these perceptions of ostracism lead to the target employees’ counterproductive work behaviors. Adopting perspectives from both perpetrators and targets, we directly measured the ostracizing behaviors by all potential perpetrators (coworkers) and perceived workplace ostracism by target employees. We integrate Social information processing theory and conservation of resource theory to propose a moderated mediation model, and found that employees who have a high level of need to belong are more likely to capture coworkers’ ostracizing behaviors, and those with low political skill are more likely to engage in counterproductive work behavior as their reaction to perceived workplace ostracism. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.


Workplace ostracism Counterproductive work behavior Need to belong Political skill Social information processing theory Conservation of resource theory Social network analysis 



This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (CN) [71302154].


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ManagementEast Carolina UniversityGreenvilleUSA
  2. 2.Department of Organization and Human Resources, School of ManagementState University of New York at BuffaloBuffaloUSA

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