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Positive Leader Behaviors and Workplace Incivility: the Mediating Role of Perceived Norms for Respect

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Abstract

Scholars have called for research on the antecedents of mistreatment in organizations such as workplace incivility, as well as the theoretical mechanisms that explain their linkage. To address this call, the present study draws upon social information processing and social cognitive theories to investigate the relationship between positive leader behaviors—those associated with charismatic leadership and ethical leadership—and workers’ experiences of workplace incivility through their perceptions of norms for respect. Relationships were separately examined in two field studies using multi-source data (employees and coworkers in study 1, employees and supervisors in study 2). Results suggest that charismatic leadership (study 1) and ethical leadership (study 2) are negatively related to employee experiences of workplace incivility through employee perceptions of norms for respect. Norms for respect appear to operate as a mediating mechanism through which positive forms of leadership may negatively relate to workplace incivility. The paper concludes with a discussion of implications for organizations regarding leader behaviors that foster norms for respect and curb uncivil behaviors at work.

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Notes

  1. Lee and Jensen (2014) also analyzed these data. However, the only variable to overlap across our study and Lee and Jensen (2014) was interpersonal justice, which was included as a control variable in our study.

  2. Details on the development of this measure are available upon request from the authors.

  3. We thank an anonymous reviewer for encouraging us to consider this alternative possibility.

  4. Three supervisors provided responses for more than one employee. Specifically, one supervisor responded for five employees, and the two remaining supervisors responded for two employees each. We addressed this potential non-independence in model testing.

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Correspondence to Benjamin M. Walsh.

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Walsh, B.M., Lee, J.(., Jensen, J.M. et al. Positive Leader Behaviors and Workplace Incivility: the Mediating Role of Perceived Norms for Respect. J Bus Psychol 33, 495–508 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-017-9505-x

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