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I am a M.A. in industrial/organizational psychology. Most of my experience has been in human resources and change management. My passion lies in employee assessment, organizational development and employee opinions. Website: www.IanMondrow.com LinkedIn Profile: http://linkd.in/drBYoC

Friday, August 27, 2010

Sources of Aggression in the Workplace

Workplace aggression is defined as negative effects [that employees attempt to avoid] towards an organization and its employees (Neuman & Baron, 2005; Raver & Barling, 2007). Research on this topic has focused on its negative effects on performance, satisfaction and emotional well being. Investigators that focus on this topic specify that the negative behavior should induce stress or strain to be considered aggression. This may also impact how the employee views his/her job or the organization.

Hershcovis & Barling (2009) decide to research the topic utilizing a meta-analysis. The following hypothesizes were stated:
  1. Aggression from supervisors will have a greater impact on an individual than aggression from co-workers or outsiders.

  2. Aggression from co-workers will make an employee feel as though he/she is excluded from social groups.

  3. Supervisor aggression produces more stress than co-worker aggression as it can affect the resources (supplies, promotions, etc.) available.

Hershcovis and Barling collected research up to February of 2008. The research they included in the meta-analysis had to fulfill several requirements. These included:

  • The data had to focus on aggression that was experienced.

  • Correlations must be available.

  • The data must be used in only one study.

  • The perpetrator had to be clearly identified.

In the end, the researchers had compiled 66 sources of information. T-tests were utilized to compare supervisor aggression and co-worker aggression. They also used Z-Tests to evaluate aggression between co-workers and outsiders. Sub-analysis were used in cases where a study included data between coworker and supervisor aggression.

According to the researchers, results found that supervisors had the biggest impact, followed by co-workers than outsiders. It is suggested that there is a significant impact on job satisfaction, affective commitment, intent to turnover,general health, emotional exhaustion, depression, physical well being, interpersonal deviance, organizational deviance, and performance (Hershcovis & Barling, 2009). In regards to health, there was no variance between the source of aggression. However, when aggression originated from a company member, it negatively affects the employee's image of the organization. This is based on the fact that employees have a psychological contract that assumes the organization will keep them safe.

When evaluating their own study, Hershcovis and Barling (2009) state that the meta-analysis required a large amount of judgment. They were required to create a consistent scale among studies that used a variety of measurements.

My personal concern with the study is that I feel their correlations were rather weak to claim significance. There was only one variable that had a correlation greater than .05, which was Supervisor-directed deviance. All of the other variables were less than .35. I suggest that readers take this meta-analysis lightly as the findings may not be as significant as suggested. Luckily, this topic is becoming more common and therefore other studies can be found.

Work Cited

Hershcovis, M. S. and Barling, J. (2010), Towards a multi-foci approach to workplace aggression: A meta-analytic review of outcomes from different perpetrators. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 31: 24–44. doi: 10.1002/job.621

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