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Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace  

Ståle Valvatne Einarsen and Kari Wik Ågotnes

Workplace bullying and harassment is prevalent in contemporary workplaces with detrimental negative outcomes for targets as well as for bystanders and the organization itself. At any one time, some 3%–20% of the working population is targeted, suffering reduced motivation and productivity, severe mental and physical health problems, and a risk of exclusion from the organization and even working life altogether. Bullying and harassment is about the systematic and ongoing mistreatment of an employee by other organization members, mostly of a psychological and social nature and often involving a gradually escalating process that may end in severe victimization of those targeted if not properly managed and handled in its early phases. In early phases, by some denoted incivility, the behaviors involved are often subtle, indirect, and discrete, while in later phases they become ever more prevalent and direct—even involving threats and open verbal abuse. Bullying may involve work-related behaviors creating a difficult and even dangerous working situation for the target, personally demeaning behavior, acts of social exclusion and non-inclusion, and physically intimidation behaviors. Hence, bullying comes in many shades and forms, as well as at many levels of intensity. Although risk factors and antecedents of this complex problem may be found on many levels, factors in the immediate working environment and the design and management of work are particularly important. Furthermore, bullying is particularly prevalent in working environments characterized by a hostile working climate and in organizations where such behaviors are permitted or even rewarded.


Conflict Management  

Patricia Elgoibar, Martin Euwema, and Lourdes Munduate

Conflicts are part of nature and certainly part of human relations, between individuals, as well as within and between groups. Conflicts occur in every domain of life: family, work, and society, local and global. Conflict management, therefore, is an essential competency for each person. People differ largely in their emotional and behavioral responses to conflict and need to learn how to behave effectively in different conflict situations. This requires a contingency approach, first assessing the conflict situation, and then choosing a strategy, matching the goals of the party. In most situations, fostering cooperative relations will be most beneficial; however, this is also most challenging. Therefore, constructive conflict management strategies, including trust building and methods of constructive controversy, are emphasized. Conflict management, however, is broader than the interaction of the conflicting parties. Third-party interventions are an essential element of constructive conflict management, particularly the assessment of which parties are intervening in what ways at what escalation stage.


Electronic Communication  

Anita Blanchard, Jordan Duran, and Jeremy Lewis

Electronic communication is the ability for people to interact through technology. Some researchers focus on the characteristics of the technology. Yet it is the humans who determine how electronic communication is used and how it affects individuals and groups. Therefore, the field of social psychology is particularly needed to contribute to the understanding of electronic communication. Electronic communication currently ranges from email to social media to artificial intelligence. It affects individuals, their relationships with others, their personal identity and group identification, and even community functioning. New communication technologies will continue to emerge. Therefore, attention from social psychologistsis essential to understand the positive and negative effects of electronic communication on people.


Gender in Organizations  

Karyssa Courey, Makai Ruffin, Mikki Hebl, Dillon Stewart, Meridith Townsend, Leilani Seged, Jordyn Williams, Cedric Patterson, Sara Mei, and Eden King

In the U.S., women represent an abysmally small number of Fortune 500 chief executive officers (CEOs) positions, and are generally absent from some of the highest status occupations and the highest echelons of leadership in almost every aspect of society. Scientific research has been brought to bear on this social problem, with the goal of building understanding, awareness, and change. In particular, psychological theory and evidence provide compelling documentation of the challenges that women encounter upon entering and navigating the workplace. The primary theoretical rationales used to explain gender disparities and challenges include social learning theory, social role theory, role congruity theory, lack of fit model, ambivalent sexism theory, and the stereotype content model. These theories emphasize the perceived misalignment between expectations of ideal workers or leaders and those of ideal women as a driver of workplace gender inequities that include women’s disadvantages in educational experiences, access to jobs and pay, leadership positions, sociobiological patterns, and caregiving demands. Workplace gender inequities in these areas can be remedied by implementing strategies for positive change such as empowering women, valuing feminine characteristics, creating equal opportunities, and changing workplace and societal cultures.


Group Processes  

Charles Stangor

Group process refers to the behaviors of the members of small working groups (usually between three and twelve members) as they engage in decision-making and task performance. Group process includes the study of how group members’ characteristics interact with the behavior of group members to create effective or ineffective group performance. Relevant topics include the influences of group norms, group roles, group status, group identity, and group social interaction as they influence group task performance and decision-making, the development and change of groups over time, group task typologies, and decision-making schemes. Relevant group outcomes include group cohesion, process losses and process gains in performance, free riding, ineffective information sharing, difficulties in brainstorming, groupthink, and group polarization. Other variables that influence effective group process include group member diversity, task attractiveness, and task significance. A variety of techniques are used to improve group process.


Group Socialization  

Geoffrey J. Leonardelli

Group socialization refers to the psychological process by which individuals and groups mutually influence each other’s experience of being a group member. It is a significant topic, considered central to group members’ experience of group living, adjustment, and well-being, and it can be hotly contested, affecting groups of people that include less than a handful to thousands, millions, or more. Group socialization is most regularly interpreted to refer to how groups influence individuals’ transition to becoming group members. However, group socialization includes other membership transitions, too (e.g., becoming full members or exiting the group). Individual members can also influence what defines group membership for themselves and others. Social and self-categorization processes describe how people internalize group socialization, not only in terms of how socializing content is cognitively represented as a group prototype, but also in how people come to see themselves as group members through a process called self-stereotyping. Group socialization is different from, but can inform, group development (i.e., how groups change over time) and is a topic that is regularly negotiated by group members, as the literatures on socialization attitudes (e.g., assimilation, segregation, multiculturalism) and subjective group dynamics attest. Future research would benefit from understanding which principles of group socialization apply to all groups or specific types (small groups, categories). It would also benefit from understanding how multiple and competing group prototypes can be reconciled, the role of the intergroup context in group socialization, and the conditions under which group socialization is negotiated or simply internalized.


Justice in Teams  

Vincente Martínez-Tur and Carolina Moliner

Traditionally, justice in teams refers to a specific climate—called justice climate—describing shared perceptions about how the team as a whole is treated. Justice at the individual level has been a successful model from which to build the concept of justice in teams. Accordingly, there is a parallelism between the individual and team levels in the investigation of justice, where scholars’ concerns and responses have been very similar, despite studying different levels of construct. However, the specific particularities of teams are increasingly considered in research. There are three concepts (faultlines, subgrouping, and intergroup justice) that contribute to knowledge by focusing on particularities of teams that are not present at the individual level. The shift toward team-based structures provides an opportunity to observe the existence of dividing lines that may split a team into subgroups (faultlines) and the difficulty, in many cases, of conceiving of the team members as part of a single group. This perspective about teams also stimulates the study of the subgroup as a source of justice and the focus on intergroup justice within the team. In sum, the organizational context facilitates shared experiences and perceptions of justice beyond individual differences but also can result in potential conflicts and discrepancies among subgroups within the team in their interpretation of fairness.


Social Influence in Leadership  

David E. Rast III and Christine Kershaw

Although social influence and leadership are inextricably intertwined, with a few notable exceptions, they are typically discussed in isolation from one another. The overlap of methods of social influence and theories of leadership, however, makes it clear these topics should be discussed together. Furthermore, the involvement of group norms, which are group-based social constructs related to values within the group, clearly link leadership and social influence research. Group norms are involved in social influence via such group-oriented influences as conformity, and they are involved in leadership by setting the values used to determine the group’s leader. Understanding the relationship between and the potential limitations of social influence and leadership will provide researchers in both fields with a stronger foundation for future areas of inquiry.


Virtual Teams and Digital Collaboration  

Conny H. Antoni

Collaborating in teams by using various digital information and communication technologies (ICTs) to perform interdependent tasks and achieve common goals relevant for one’s organization is increasingly the new normal. Such more or less virtual teams—which can be all human or human-agent teams (HATs) (i.e., including autonomous software agents with artificial intelligence)—are complex dynamic open socio-digital systems embedded in an organizational, economical, and societal context. How and to what degree team members use ICTs to perform their tasks and to manage situational demands influence team processes and emergent states, such as transactive memory systems and team mental models, and thus team effectiveness. Research on input-mediator-output-input models of teamwork has shown that these processes are reciprocal, influencing team development over time. Research on virtual team effectiveness shows negative effects of virtual teams on team functioning and effectiveness primarily when short-term laboratory teams are studied, whereas no or lower effects were found for long-term organizational teams. These results have practical and theoretical implications, such as to support the launch of virtual teams by team-building interventions and trainings and to prefer longitudinal and field studies to examine processes and outcomes of virtual human teams as well as HATs.