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Rebecca J. Bennett, Shelly Marasi, and Lauren Locklear

The history of workplace deviance research has evolved from a focus on singular behaviors, such as theft or withdrawal in the 1970s and 1980s, to the broader focus on a range of behaviors in the 21st century. This more inclusive cluster of related “dark side” behaviors is made up of voluntary behaviors that violate significant organizational norms and in so doing threaten the well-being of an organization, its members, or both. Examples of behaviors that fall in this domain are employee theft and sabotage of organizational goods, services, data, customer lists, materials, working slow, calling in sick when you are not, bullying, harassment, discrimination, and gossip. Workplace deviance can be targeted at other individuals in the organization (coworkers, supervisors, subordinates) or at the organization itself, or both. Typically the actor’s perspective is considered, but other relevant views of the behavior include the supervisor/the organization, peers, customers, or other third parties. Many causes have been studied as sources of deviant workplace behaviors, for example personality characteristics such as neuroticism or low conscientiousness, modeling others’ behavior, experiences of injustice, uncertainty, lack of control or feelings of anger, frustration, and dissatisfaction. Nowadays, some researchers are returning to a focus on individual behaviors, or smaller clusters of behaviors such as sexual misconduct, gossip, and even constructive deviance, and the outcomes of workplace deviance on actors, targets, and observers are being investigated.


Ann Peng, Rebecca Mitchell, and John M. Schaubroeck

In recent years scholars of abusive supervision have expanded the scope of outcomes examined and have advanced new psychological and social processes to account for these and other outcomes. Besides the commonly used relational theories such as justice theory and social exchange theory, recent studies have more frequently drawn from theories about emotion to describe how abusive supervision influences the behavior, attitudes, and well-being of both the victims and the perpetrators. In addition, an increasing number of studies have examined the antecedents of abusive supervision. The studied antecedents include personality, behavioral, and situational characteristics of the supervisors and/or the subordinates. Studies have reported how characteristics of the supervisor and that of the focal victim interact to determining abuse frequency. Formerly postulated outcomes of abusive supervision (e.g., subordinate performance) have also been identified as antecedents of abusive supervision. This points to a need to model dynamic and mutually reciprocal processes between leader abusive behavior and follower responses with longitudinal data. Moreover, extending prior research that has exclusively focused on the victim’s perspective, scholars have started to take the supervisor’s perspective and the lens of third-parties, such as victims’ coworkers, to understand the broad impact of abusive supervision. Finally, a small number of studies have started to model abusive supervision as a multilevel phenomenon. These studies have examined a group aggregated measure of abusive supervision, examining its influence as an antecedent of individual level outcomes and as a moderator of relationships between individuals’ experiences of abusive supervision and personal outcomes. More research could be devoted to establishing the causal effects of abusive supervision and to developing organizational interventions to reduce abusive supervision.


Ivana Vranjes and Zhanna Lyubykh

Workplace mistreatment researchers study negative interpersonal behaviors under a plethora of different labels, including incivility, bullying, harassment, aggression, and violence. While negative interpersonal behaviors differ in their intensity, intent, and frequency, a common denominator of these behaviors is their adverse impact on employees and organizations. Research has identified the nomological network of workplace mistreatment, which illustrates individual and contextual factors associated with mistreatment behaviors. Authors have also highlighted outcomes of mistreatment, showing that mistreatment results in reduced psychological and physical health, worsened job attitudes, and diminished performance for both targets and bystanders. Further, enacted mistreatment is not without consequences for the perpetrators, and these consequences can be both negative and positive. While workplace mistreatment research has been steadily growing, many questions remain unanswered. There are unexplored topics, approaches, and methodologies. First, there is a need to understand the uniqueness and similarities of different mistreatment constructs to provide a more comprehensive approach for studying workplace mistreatment and highlight alternative ways of measuring mistreatment constructs. Novel methodological approaches, such as HotMap and artificial intelligence, could shed light on the dynamics between targets and perpetrators of mistreatment, allowing researchers to capture the dynamic nature of mistreatment behaviors. Second, the interactions among societal, cultural, and interpersonal factors are likely to shape enacted mistreatment. For instance, social networks within organizations and the interrelations between employees are likely to influence not only the individual who becomes targeted, but also the way in which bystanders are to take action against such mistreatment. Third, while the role of bystanders in the dynamics of workplace mistreatment is undoubtedly important, there is a need to critically investigate the role bystanders may play in curtailing or encouraging mistreatment. More specifically, bystander interventions can take both constructive and destructive forms. Finally, targets’ responses to experienced mistreatment are likely to be relevant to the understanding of the dyadic nature of workplace mistreatment, such that an aggressive target response is likely to cause a mistreatment spiraling. However, it remains unclear what type of target response, if any, would be beneficial in helping de-escalate destructive behavior from the perpetrator. Thus, more research is needed to help address the important question of the best ways to deal with experienced mistreatment.