Home  |  Top News  |  Most Popular  |  Video  |  Multimedia  |  News Feeds  |  Feedback
  Medicine  |  Nature & Earth  |  Biology  |  Technology & Engineering  |  Space & Planetary  |  Psychology  |  Physics & Chemistry  |  Economics  |  Archaeology
Top > Psychology > Workplace Sabotage Fueled by Envy,… >
Workplace Sabotage Fueled by Envy, Unleashed by Disengagement: UBC Research

Published: October 6, 2011.
By University of British Columbia
http://www.ubc.ca

University of British Columbia research shows that managers should keep team members connected and engaged to avoid workplace sabotage. Co-authored by UBC Sauder School of Business Prof. Karl Aquino, the study reveals that envious employees are more likely to undermine peers if they feel disconnected from others.

"We often hear that people who feel envious of their colleagues try to bring them down by spreading negative rumours, withholding useful information, or secretly sabotaging their work," says Prof. Aquino, who conducted the study with colleagues from the University of Minnesota, Clemson University in South Carolina and Georgia State University.

However, Aquino says envy is only the fuel for sabotage. "The match is not struck unless employees experience what psychologists call 'moral disengagement' – a way of thinking that allows people to rationalize or justify harming others."

The researchers explain that moral disengagement is most likely to occur when an envious co-worker feels disconnected from others in the workplace. Their paper, "A Social Context Model of Envy and Social Undermining," will appear in a forthcoming issue of the Academy of Management Journal.

To obtain data, the research team conducted two field studies. They first used a sample of 160 employees from a mid-west American hospital to test whether a person's lack of identification with colleagues increases their likelihood to act on envy. The employees were asked to complete two separate surveys eight months apart. During the first survey, participants were asked to rate their reactions – positive or negative – to a series of statements regarding envy, affinity with colleagues and comfort with subversive acts. After eight months, the respondents were surveyed again, this time about their actual undermining activities.

When the results of the surveys were compared, it showed people experiencing feelings of envy were significantly more likely to report committing sabotage when experiencing weak relationships with co-workers. Conversely, envious participants reported low sabotage incident rates when they felt they were more strongly connected to their workmates.

"The working world typically necessitates that people develop strong connections with co-workers in order to thrive. To stray from this path ultimately puts success at risk, so most suffer from envy in silence," says the study's lead author, Prof. Michelle Duffy of the University of Minnesota. "However, from our research it seems that when someone sees themselves as a lone wolf, they are less inhibited and more likely to lash out."

In a second study, the researchers explored how the working environment can influence employees to undermine one another. Taking part in this experiment were 247 business students enrolled in a class at a mid-western American university. Randomly divided into numerous workgroups, the students completed a series of questionnaires throughout the semester. The students were asked to rate their level of envy, connections with their group members and incidences of sabotage committed by themselves and others.

The results show that students who reported feelings of envy and low levels of identification with their workgroups were significantly more likely to report committing acts of sabotage when they belonged to groups which reported high rates of sabotage as a whole. The researchers point to this result as an indication that if a workplace seems to be permitting sabotage, those who are inclined toward subversive behaviour will be more likely to follow through.

"Our study shows that envy on its own is not necessarily a negative thing in the workplace. However, managers would be well advised to consider teambuilding strategies to ensure all of their employees are engaged in the group dynamic," says Duffy. "It is also important that those in charge don't give incidents of co-worker undermining a free pass, because once it starts the tendency is for it to spread."


Show Reference »


Translate this page: Chinese French German Italian Japanese Korean Portuguese Russian Spanish


Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the ScienceNewsline.
Related »

Employees 
2/18/14 

Perception of Job Insecurity Results in Lower Use of Workplace Programs
By University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Harvey 
9/17/13 
Entitlement-minded Workers More Likely to Claim Bosses Mistreat Them, New UNH Research Shows
By University of New Hampshire
DURHAM, N.H. – Employees who have a sense of unjustified entitlement are more likely to say that their bosses are abusive and mistreat them than their less entitlement-minded coworkers, …
Work 
12/6/11 
Study Suggests Flexible Workplaces Promote Better Health Behavior And Well-being
By American Sociological Association
A flexible workplace initiative improved employees' health behavior and well-being, including a rise in the amount and quality of sleep and better health management, according to a new study …
Researchers 
7/13/10 
Entitled Workers Are More Frustrated on the Job And More Likely to Abuse Co-workers
By University of New Hampshire
DURHAM, N.H. – Employees who feel entitled in the workplace are more apt to be frustrated on the job and lash out at their co-workers, according to new research …
Motivation 
9/22/10 
Motivated Workers Perform Better
By BI Norwegian School of Management
Employees perform best when they experience inner motivation at work, asserts Anders Dysvik, based on a doctoral study at BI Norwegian School of Management. Organizations can create conditions for …
Program 
5/4/11 
Employees Should Build Reputation Before Using Work-family Programs
By Penn State
Employees often suspect that participating in work-family programs could harm their careers, and prior research studies have shown they are right to be worried. Employees who use the programs …
Employees 
11/15/10 
★★ 
Study: Teleworkers More Satisfied Than Office-based Employees
By University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee
Employees who telecommute the majority of the work week are more satisfied with their jobs compared to those working mostly in the office because working remotely alleviates more stress …
Retention 
4/3/14 
Aging Workforce Requires New Strategies for Employee Retention, MU Researcher Says
By University of Missouri-Columbia
COLUMBIA, Mo. – As more baby boomers reach retirement age, state governments face the likelihood of higher workforce turnover. For example, in the state of Missouri, more than 25 …
Workplace 
6/10/11 
Sucking Up to the Boss May Move You Up And Keep You Healthy
By Wiley-Blackwell
Savvy career minded individuals have known for some time that ingratiating oneself to the boss and others – perhaps more commonly known as 'sucking up'– can help move them …
More » 

Most Popular - Psychology »
OBJECTS »
Scientists Discover Brain's Anti-distraction System
Two Simon Fraser University psychologists have made a brain-related discovery that could revolutionize doctors' perception and treatment of attention-deficit disorders. This discovery opens up the possibility that environmental …
MEMORIES »
New Study Suggests a Better Way to Deal with Bad Memories
AGE »
The Ilk of Human Kindness
Researchers at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine report that older women, plucky individuals and those who have suffered a recent major loss are more likely …
LANGUAGE »
IU Cognitive Scientists Use 'I Spy' to Show Spoken Language Helps Direct Children's Eyes
RELIGIOUS »
Religious Music Brings Benefit to Seniors' Mental Health
A new article published online in The Gerontologist reports that among older Christians, listening to religious music is associated with a decrease in anxiety about death and increases in …
ScienceNewsline  |  About  |  Privacy Policy  |  Feedback  |  Mobile  |  Japanese
The selection and placement of stories are determined automatically by a computer program. All contents are copyright of their owners except U.S. Government works. U.S. Government works are assumed to be in the public domain unless otherwise noted. Everything else copyright ScienceNewsline.