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Employees emotional responses to incivility from different sources at workplace

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學號 : D10508803


研究生 : Ma The Ngan

指導教授 : Dr. Ying-Jung Yeh

中華⺠國 : 109 年 7月 10日

Grounded in the cognitive–motivational–relational (CMR) theory of emotions and
social power theory, the author conducted a multilevel study to examine the links
between employees’ emotional responses and workplace incivility from different
sources at workplace. Organizational power distance effects on links between incivility
and employee’s emotions will also be analyzed. Specifically, the author predicted that
coworker incivility might be positively associated with target’s anger and positive
associations would be found when linking incivility from supervisor as well as customer
to employees’ fear and sadness. The author also hypothesized that the impacts of
incivility on employee well-being are stronger for those in organizations with high
power distance values. The research sample included 219 non-managerial employees

from 38 organizations in Vietnam and Taiwan. All research hypotheses were supported
by the data except for the moderating effect of organizational power distance on the
relationship between supervisor incivility and employee sadness. The findings suggest
that although incivility is considered as social norm violation, the instigator’s power and
legitimacy affect the target’s appraisal. Organizational culture, such as power distance,
also sets boundaries in which individuals interact with others.


My deep gratitude goes first to Professor Ying-Jung Yvonne Yeh who has expertly
guided me through my graduate education and who has encouraged and inspired me in
my four years of discovery. She also helped me to see the beauty of Organizational
Behavior. I still remember our first meeting where Professor Yeh told me: “If you
choose to work with me, you also choose Organizational Behavior as a career.” At that
time, although having a strong interest in this field, I could not imagine that it is more
than my career. With its philosophies, I built my own formula of happiness which varies
as a function of career, work-life balance, mindfulness, and keeping calm. For me, it is
the most important lesson in life.
I sincerely thank National Taiwan University of Science and Technology for the
scholarship grant which had enabled me to undertake this Ph.D. study.
I would also like to acknowledge with gratitude, the support, love, patience, and
tolerance of my wife, Trang, and my son, Bon. They all kept me going, and this
dissertation would not have been possible without them.
In addition, I am thankful to my Mom, Hoàng Thị Dựng, and my Dad, Ma Thế Dụng,
who always support me unconditionally.
Last, but definitely not the least, I would like to extend my sincere thanks to my parentsin-law, my sister, my sister-in-law, and my brother-in-law for their support, caring, and


















2.1. Workplace Incivility


2.1.1. Definition


2.1.2. Antecedents of Experienced Incivility


2.1.3. Consequences of Experienced Incivility


2.1.4. Incivility from Different Sources: A Need for Comparing


2.2. Theoretical Background


2.2.1. CMR Theory of Emotions


2.2.2. The Nature of Incivility From Different Sources: Social Power


Theory and Dyadic Relational Perspective
2.2.3. Power Distance


2.3. Incivility from Different Sources and Discrete Negative Emotions


2.3.1. Incivility and Employee Anger


2.3.2. Incivility and Employee Fear


2.3.3. Incivility and Employee Sadness



2.4. The Moderating Effects of Organizational Power Distance On the


Relationships Between Incivility from Different Sources and Discrete
Negative Emotions


3.1. Participants and Procedure


3.2. Measures


3.2.1. Independent Variables: Incivility from Different Sources


3.2.2. Dependent Variable: Discrete Negative Emotions


3.2.3. Moderator: Organizational Power Distance


3.2.4. Controls


3.3. Analysis: Hierarchical Linear Modeling




4.1. Preliminary Analyses


4.1.1. Scale Analysis


4.1.2. Descriptive Statistics


4.1.3. Aggregation Statistics


4.1.4. Variance components analysis


4.2. Tests of Hypotheses


4.3. Discussion


4.4. Practical Implications


4.5. Study Limitations


4.6. Directions for Future Research





Table 1. Sample frequency distribution table


Table 2. Results of Scale Analysis


Table 3. Descriptive Statistics and Correlations


Table 4. Regression Data for Anger on Incivility


Table 5. Regression Data for Fear on Incivility


Table 6. Regression Data for Sadness on Incivility



Figure 1. Theoretical Model


Figure 2. Interactions between organizational power distance and coworker


incivility with anger as a dependent variable
Figure 3. Interactions between organizational power distance and supervisor


incivility with fear as a dependent variable
Figure 4. Interactions between organizational power distance and customer


incivility with fear as a dependent variable
Figure 5. Interactions between organizational power distance and customer
incivility with sadness as a dependent variable



The construct of workplace incivility was first introduced by Andersson and

Pearson (1999). Some scholars (e.g., Hershcovis, 2011; Schilpzand, de Pater, & Erez,
2016) classify it in the domain of negative workplace behavior, along with a number of
related constructs, such as workplace bullying, social undermining, workplace
aggression, interpersonal conflict, and abusive supervision. In the last twenty years, this
domain has been widely studied by organizational researchers (Schilpzand et al., 2016).
Numerous reasons for this emerging are listed, such as diversity in the workforce
enhancing greater misunderstanding; greater perceived job insecurity derived from
company downsizing; greater workload leading to higher levels of stress on employees
(Blau & Andersson, 2005). According to Andersson and Pearson (1999), the flatness of
organizations also contributes to the spread of incivility by decreasing the number of
obvious cues which constitute norms for interpersonal interaction.
Whereas previous research has exerted considerable effort toward examining
impacts of incivility (Schilpzand et al., 2016), there are only several studies addressing
affective outcomes (e.g., Bunk & Magley, 2013; Porath & Pearson, 2012). There also
has been little attempt to compare the effects of incivility from different sources (i.e.,
supervisor, coworker, and customer) (Schilpzand et al., 2016). Thus, the fist motivation
of this study is to address this gap in the literature with a research examining the effects
of incivility perpetrated by supervisors, coworkers, and customers on discrete negative
emotions. For theorizing, three perspectives were integrated including cognitive–
motivational–relational (CMR) theory of emotions (Lazarus, 1991, 2001; Smith &
Lazarus, 1990), social power theory (French & Raven, 1959) and dyadic relational
perspective (Grandey, Rafaeli, Ravid, Wirtz, & Steiner, 2010) to assess incivility1

emotion relationships. Briefly, the CMR theory proposes that when people experience a
potential stressor, a cognitive emotional process unfolds to evaluate the relevance to the
person's well-being and the person's resources for coping with the encounter; then, an
affective response in the form of discrete emotions (e.g., anger, guilt, or disgust) will
occur. According to the social power theory, a number of resources form bases of power
over others. An individual’s social power determines how the person feels efficacious

and influential and that his or her world is in control (Cortina & Magley, 2009).
Consequently, in interpersonal interactions, one’s perception of power might influence
his or her evaluation of coping potential in dealing with the encounter. In addition,
emotional response is shaped by relative social power (Grandey et al., 2010), suggesting
that the appraisal of incivility should be considered under specific dyadic relationships.
The combination of the perspectives is helpful to explain the process in which specific
emotions emerge due to specific sources of incivility (see Figure 1).
Second, this study aims at examining the moderating effect of power distance on
the links of incivility-emotion. Power distance is the most relevant cultural value factor
in the current research framework because incivility may function as a means of
asserting power (Cortina, Magley, Williams, & Langhout, 2001; Lim & Lee, 2011), and
fundamental values of power are likely to influence individuals’ understanding of, and
then their response to, workplace incivility. However, to my knowledge, little research
on workplace incivility has examined the impact of power distance. In the organizational
context, the effects of incivility may be influenced when there is a convergence among
organizational members on the appropriate level of deference to authority figures. Some
researchers (e.g., Yang, Mossholder, & Peng, 2007) have suggested that there is a need
to study power distance at the collective level. In response to this need, the current study
examines whether the variance of power distance at group level can moderate the
relationship between experienced incivility and emotional responses.


2.1. Workplace Incivility
2.1.1. Definition
Workplace incivility is defined as a low-intensity form of deviant workplace
behavior in which the perpetrator has an ambiguous intent to harm (Andersson &
Pearson, 1999). Examples of uncivil behavior include sarcasm, disparaging tones and

remarks, hostile stares, and the “silent treatment” (Lim, Cortina, & Magley, 2008), not
saying “please” or “thank you”, ignoring somebody, or raising voice (Pearson,
Andersson, & Wegner, 2001). According to Pearson et al. (2001), the three key
characteristics of workplace incivility are norm violation, ambiguous intent, and low
intensity. Perpetrators of incivility are not only individuals in managerial jobs or
supervisory roles but also coworkers and outsiders (e.g., customers or clients)
(Schilpzand et al., 2016).
According to Schilpzand et al. (2016), there are three types of incivility including
experienced, witnessed, and instigated incivility. Joining the main body of workplace
incivility literature, the current study focuses on experienced incivility. In addition,
service employees may be at highest risk of being uncivilly treated among parties at
workplace. The literature shows that incivility tends to be downwardly performed
(Porath & Pearson,2012). Incivility may be viewed as a means of asserting power, thus
the employee – who is conferred low power in an organization and in the relationship
with customers is likely more vulnerable to such abuse (Cortina et al., 2001). Consistent
with this view, there have been some empirical evidence reported in the literature. For
example, in a research conducted by Lim and Lee (2011), respondents reported highest
levels of frequency of supervisor incivility, followed by incivility from coworkers and
subordinates. Moon, Weick, and Uskul (2018) also found that incivility perpetrated by

high-ranking individuals (i.e., seniors and supervisors) was more commonly
experienced than uncivil behavior from low-ranking individuals (i.e., juniors and
subordinates). Therefore, this study addresses service employees in their interactions
with supervisors, coworker and customers.
2.1.2. Antecedents of Experienced Incivility
Schilpzand et al. (2016) categorize antecedents of experienced incivility into three
types including dispositional, behavioral, and contextual aspects. Dispositional
antecedents consist of belonging to an ethnic minority (Cortina, Kabat-Farr, Leskinen,

Huerta, & Magley, 2013), belonging to younger generation (Leiter, Price, & Laschinger,
2010; Lim & Lee, 2011), agreeableness and neuroticism (Milam, Spitzmueller, &
Penney, 2009), and gender (Cortina et al., 2013; Cortina et al., 2001). Interestingly,
studies examining the relationship between gender and experienced incivility find
contradictory results. Whereas Lim and Lee (2011) found that men experienced more
incivility than women, studies from Cortina and colleagues (Cortina et al., 2013; Cortina
et al., 2001) demonstrated higher levels of experienced incivility toward women than
men. A recent study showed that women experience incivility in greater frequency from
other women than from men (Gabriel, Butts, Yuan, Rosen, & Sliter, 2018). Behavioral
antecedents of experienced incivility include counterproductive work behaviors (Meier
& Spector, 2013) and conflict management style (Trudel & Reio, 2011). Situational
antecedents of experienced incivility consist of workgroup norms for civility (Walsh et
al., 2012), role stressors (Taylor & Kluemper, 2012), and team-based intervention
(implementing interventions that support civility in the work setting) (Leiter, Day, Oore,
& Laschinger, 2012; Leiter, Laschinger, Day, & Oore, 2011).


2.1.3. Consequences of Experienced Incivility
Most studies on incivility examine workplace incivility without identifying the
sources, which assumes that incivility does not differ by perpetrator (Hershcovis &
Barling, 2010; Schilpzand et al., 2016). These studies demonstrate that outcomes of
experienced incivility may be affective, attitudinal, cognitive, or behavioral (Schilpzand
et al., 2016). Affective outcomes of experienced incivility include increased
emotionality (Bunk & Magley, 2013), depression (Miner-Rubino & Reed, 2010), lower
affective trust (Cameron & Webster, 2011), and higher levels of stress (Cortina et al.,
2001; Lim & Cortina, 2005; Miner-Rubino & Reed, 2010). There are some specific
emotional responses to workplace incivility that have been found including anger, fear,
and sadness (Porath & Pearson, 2012). Regarding attitudinal outcomes, experienced

incivility has been found to be associated with targets’ lower levels of job satisfaction
(Cortina et al., 2001; Lim & Cortina, 2005; Lim et al., 2008, Miner-Rubino & Reed,
2010) as well as lower satisfaction with their life (Lim & Cortina, 2005; Miner-Rubino
& Reed, 2010). In addition, Porath and Erez (2007) found that incivility also impairs the
target’s cognitive resources (i.e., work-related memory).
Experienced incivility also predicts a number of counterproductive behaviors of
the target. Behavioral outcomes of experienced incivility include reciprocation (Bunk &
Magley, 2013), counterproductive workplace behavior (Penney & Spector, 2005), lower
task performance (Chen et al., 2013; Porath & Erez, 2007), creativity (Porath & Erez,
2007), citizenship behavior (Porath & Erez, 2007; Taylor et al., 2012), work engagement
(Chen et al., 2013), withdrawal behaviors (Cortina et al., 2001; Lim & Cortina, 2005),
and turnover intentions (Griffin, 2010; Lim et al., 2008; Miner-Rubino & Reed, 2010).


2.1.4. Incivility from Different Sources: A Need for Comparing
Some studies do specifically assess the outcomes of incivility from one of the
sources (i.e., supervisor, coworker, or customer). Supervisor incivility negatively
influences on both employees (e.g., job satisfaction) and organizations (e.g.,
organizational commitment, deviant behavior, and turnover intention) (Lim & Teo,
2009). Customer incivility was found to be associated with emotional exhaustion (Kern
& Grandey, 2009; Sliter, Jex, Wolford, & McInnerney, 2010; van Jaarsveld, Walker, &
Skarlicki, 2010); job demands (van Jaarsveld et al., 2010), and sales performance (Sliter
et al., 2010).
Some other researchers compare the outcomes of incivility perpetrated separately
by supervisors, coworkers, and customers. Leiter et al. (2010) found that exhaustion and
turnover intention were more strongly correlated with supervisor incivility than with
coworker incivility. In Lim and Lee’s (2011) study, experiences of incivility by
coworker and supervisor were found to be associated with different outcomes.

Specifically, coworker incivility was related to coworker satisfaction, perceptions of
unfair treatment, and depression; on the other hand, superior incivility was associated
with supervisor satisfaction and work-to-family conflict. In a diary study, Tremmel and
Sonnentag (2018) found that both coworker incivility and customer incivility were
indirectly related to bedtime negative affect via negative affect at the end of the
workday; customer incivility was also found to indirectly related to next-morning
negative affect via negative affect at the end of the workday and at bedtime. Sliter et al.
(2012) examined two sources of incivility (customer and coworker) and found that their
impacts on sales performance and withdrawal behaviors were different. Recently, Zhou,
Meier, and Spector (2019) found that daily incivility from coworker and customer were
positively related to work‐to‐family conflict through burnout, whereas daily supervisor

incivility was not. In a broader literature (i.e., workplace aggression), results from a
meta-analysis (Hershcovis & Barling, 2010) showed that supervisor aggression,
coworker aggression, and outsider aggression had different effect sizes in their
associations with job satisfaction, affective commitment, turnover intention, general
health, organizational deviance, and performance. Overall, it is suggested that incivility
from various sources may differentially lead to distinct outcomes.
The current work aims at comparing the emotional responses of experienced
incivility from different sources including supervisor, coworker, and customer.
Although understanding affective consequences of incivility is meaningful (Porath &
Pearson, 2012), there have been few efforts devoting this issue except for several
attempts. Using K-means cluster technique, Bunk and Magley (2013) found that
incivility leads to target responses through three functions (emotionality, optimism, and
externalizing) resulted from the combination of a number of appraisal and emotion
variables. However, the authors did not differentiate the sources of incivility and explain
how incivility lead to specific emotions. Porath and Pearson’s (2012) study addresses
this gap by examining the links between incivility and some discrete emotions (i.e.,

anger, fear, and sadness). However, like the former, this study does not separate
incivility by perpetrators, thus, the question of whether incivility from different sources
could lead to dissimilar emotions is still unclear.
In addition, customer incivility is a relatively new addition to the domain of
workplace incivility, thus its effects have not yet been explored in much detail (Sliter et
al., 2012). This lack in the literature suggests that it is beneficial to establish theoretical
understanding of the outcomes of customer incivility (Sliter et al., 2010). Customer
interactions have an important impact on service employees (Walker, van Jaarsveld, &
Skarlicki, 2014) because they interact more frequently with customers than with
coworkers (Rafaeli, 1989) and supervisors (Zhou et al., 2019).

2.2. Theoretical Background
2.2.1. CMR Theory of Emotions
The CMR theory suggests that the cognitive appraisal includes two stages —
primary and secondary appraisal. In primary appraisal, the person evaluates whether
and how an event is relevant to his or her well-being. Specifically, the components of
primary appraisal are: motivational relevance concerns the extent to which a situation is
relevant to personal goals; and motivational congruence involves deciding whether the
situation is consistent or inconsistent with the person's motivational goals (Smith &
Lazarus, 1993). Because primary appraisal is involved in every emotional encounter, it
is not sufficient to determines which discrete emotions are experienced (Bunk &
Magley, 2013).
Secondary appraisal comprises four components — accountability, problemfocused coping potential, emotion-focused coping potential, and future expectancy.
Accountability is the determination of who helps (congruence) or hurts (incongruence)
one’s motivational goals. Problem-focused coping potential refers evaluations of one’s
ability responding to the situation to keep it congruent with the person's desires.
Emotion-focused coping potential reflects the resources and options that the person can
use to adjust psychologically to the encounter. Future expectancy is the possibility of

the situation could be changed so that the encounter becomes more or less motivationally
congruent (Smith & Lazarus, 1990).
Given the decidedly negative nature of incivility (Bunk & Magley, 2013), the
current study intends to explore only negative emotions in the current research;
specifically, this study follows Porath and Pearson (2012) focusing on three important
types of negative emotional responses: anger, fear, and sadness. The three emotions are
all accompanied with various types of harm, and thus are characterized by motivational

relevance and motivational incongruence (Smith & Lazarus, 1993). It is the dimensions
of secondary appraisal that determine which discrete emotions are experienced in the
harmful or threatening encounter.
Anger is primarily associated with an evaluation of other-accountability (Smith &
Lazarus, 1993). In a normal situation — that is, the target and the perpetrator are equal
in power and status, an uncivil behavior may be attributed to a violation of expectation
of deserving fairness, consideration, and respect (Porath & Pearson, 2012). This is a
motivational incongruence in which the perpetrator should be blamed for and anger will
be felt by the target.
Coping potential is critical to the experience of fear and sadness. The defining
characteristic of fear is that it is accompanied with an evaluation of low emotion-focused
coping potential. Individuals may perceive incivility as a “danger" or "threat", and when
they cannot adjust psychologically to the situation, fear will likely be felt. For example,
incivility from customer may lead to personal safety concerns (Hershcovis & Barling,
2010) which may induce the feeling of fear. Sadness may occur because of low problemfocused coping potential combined with unfavorable future expectancy, which means
the individual is unable to eliminate the harm. Incivility from a supervisor may imply
job insecurity (Hershcovis & Barling, 2010) — an unfavorable future expectancy in
which the employee does not have sufficient resources to deal with the problem; as such,
sadness will emerge.
2.2.2. The Nature of Incivility From Different Sources: Social Power Theory and

Dyadic Relational Perspective
Power is defined as one’s control over the allocation of resources or the ability to
exert influence over others and should be considered in specific relationships (Kemper,
2006). These resources form bases of power; among them are: expert power, legitimate

power, referent power, reward power, and coercive power (French & Raven, 1959).
Given the workplace context, this study primarily considers three types of power:
coercive, legitimate, and reward – those that are possessed by supervisors but not
coworkers due to their formal positions. Customers can hold all of these powers: they
can reward (e.g., by their loyalty and tips), punish (e.g., altering the service provider and
leaving negative feedback), and have legitimate power because employees often view
customers as a second boss (Grandey, Dickter, & Sin, 2004).
Due to the relations between the sources, incivility from supervisor, coworker, and
customer are different by nature. Coworkers are viewed as having the same status which
indicates that incivility from this source is less likely perceived as legitimate (Porath,
Overbeck, & Pearson, 2008). Although supervisor and customer incivility toward
employees may be appraised as legitimate due to these perpetrators’ higher status, such
uncivil behaviors are probably more harmful than coworker incivility (Schilpzand et al.,
2016). It is because incivility by those perpetrators may signal that other unfavorable
events will follow the behavior. For example, low ratings and rewards are likely to
proceed supervisor incivility; customer incivility may bring along negative feedback and
poor commissions; whereas coworkers do not have sufficient power to communicate
such severe threats.
2.2.3. Power Distance
The increasing trend toward internationalization has required scholars for greater
attention to understanding of cultural influences on business practices (House, Javidan,
& Dorfman, 2001). In the workplace, it is suggested that cultural values shape
interpersonal interactions (Vogel et al., 2015). Cultural settings create a normative

context which prescribes how members can interact (Moon et al., 2018). Members of a

society use cultural lens to perceive and interpret social relationships. Individuals judge
whether a behavior from some other is fair or not based on social norms about proper
interpersonal relations (Vogel et al., 2015). For example, subordinates rely on cultural
norms to assess their supervisor’s treatment toward them. Confucian Asian culture
stresses social hierarchies, obedience to authority figures, and the acceptance of rude
behaviors implemented by individuals in high positions; Anglo Western culture does
not accept many interpersonal inequalities (Daniels & Greguras, 2014) and emphasizes
the importance of respectful behaviors of the manager toward the subordinate (Vogel et
al., 2015). Therefore, employees from Confucian Asian culture perceive supervisor’s
hostility toward them as appropriate whereas those from Anglo culture view such
behavior as a violation of cultural norms (Vogel et al., 2015).
Perhaps the most inspirational classification of culture is Hofstede’s model
(Kirkman, Lowe, & Gibson, 2006). Hofstede (1980, p. 25) defined culture as “the
collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one human
group from another”. He proposed four dimensions along with cultural values including
individualism-collectivism, uncertainty avoidance, power distance, and masculinityfemininity. Individualism refers to the notion in which people favor a loose social
network; collectivism is characterized by tightly-integrated relationships among
members of a society. Uncertainty avoidance means whether individuals can tolerate
for ambiguity – events or situations that are unexpected, unknown, or away from the
status quo. The characteristics of a masculine culture include assertiveness, focusing
particularly on material possessions, and uncaring attitude.
Power distance refers to the degree to which individuals feel authorities should be
respected and shown deference (Yang et al., 2007). In other words, power distance


describes the extent to which hierarchical differences and unequal power distributions
are legitimized or accepted in a society (Hofstede, 1980; Hofstede, 2001; House,
Hanges, Javidan, Dorfman, & Gupta, 2004). Members of cultures with a large power
distance, such as Confucian Asian countries, value respect and deference to authority,
and they accept and reinforce power imbalances. Furthermore, in a high power distance
culture higher-ranking individuals believe that they are not necessary to consult lowerranking individuals in decision-making (Hofstede, 1980; Hofstede, 2001).
So far, power distance has been studied at societal level, organizational level, as
well as individual level (Farh, Hackett, & Liang, 2007; Yang et al., 2007). At the societal
level, power distance refers to “the extent to which a society accepts the fact that power
in institutions and organizations is distributed unequally” (Hofstede, 1980, p. 45). Power
distance at the individual level refers to “the extent to which an individual accepts the
unequal distribution of power in institutions and organizations” (Clugston, Howell, &
Dorfman, 2000, p. 9). This study examined organizational power distance, a construct
reflecting organizational members’ shared values that authorities should be shown
deference and can rightfully dictate to those in subordinate positions (Yang et al., 2007).
Although the role of status in shaping the responses of incivility has been examined
in some previous studies (e.g., Lim & Lee, 2011; Porath & Pearson, 2012), this concept,
by nature, is different from power distance. Status refers to the prestige due to
hierarchical position that an individual occupies in an organization (Piazza &
Castellucci, 2014). The power distance value refers to the extent to which inequality in
power between people is accepted by an individual, in an organization, or in a society
(Glikson, Rees, Wirtz, Kopelman, & Rafaeli, 2019). Thus, status is a source of power
differences, but such difference depends on power distance – a cultural value. In a high
power-distance culture, high status often goes along with the perception of superiority

and elite, whereas low status individuals tends to accept their low place in the
organization or society and are expected being deferential. In contrast, low powerdistance cultures support the notion that people are equal and that positions in an

organization are soly established for the convenience purpose (Gudykunst, TingToomey, & Chua, 1988).
2.3. Incivility from Different Sources and Discrete Negative Emotions
2.3.1. Incivility and Employee Anger
Generally, individuals expect a moral personal identity and receive fair,
considerate, and respectful treatment (Bies, 1999; Lind & Tyler, 1988). According to
the CMR theory, receiving fairness, consideration, and respect can be viewed as a
motivational congruence. When incivility occurs, this personal goal will be considered
in the primary appraisal; that is, targets assess whether their expectations about
interpersonal interaction have been violated (Pearson et al., 2001). Facing incivility,
individuals might feel that they are being treated unfairly and become more concerned
with the need to seek redress (Lim & Lee, 2011). The target may blame the instigator
for his or her violation of social norms and feeling of anger likely emerges.
Coworker incivility is also appraised as illegitimate because it breaches the
standards for harmonious social interaction and challenges the colleague’s status by
communicating that he or her is inferior (Porath, Overbeck, & Pearson, 2008). In
addition, incivility from coworkers may send a signal to victims that they do not belong
to the work group (Hershcovis & Barling, 2010) – another motivational incongruence.
A large literature suggests that the most important part in one's perception of oneself is
his or her need to belong (Baumeister & Leary, 1995). Working in an organization, the
individual expects to be viewed as a valued member (Lind, 1997). The manner in which

employees are treated by their colleagues is an indication of their status within the group
(Aquino, Douglas, & Martinko, 2004; Bies, 1999; Steele, 1988). Thus, coworker
incivility may reflect a social exclusion which is associated with aggressive tendencies
(Twenge, Baumeister, Tice, & Stucke, 2001).
Supervisor incivility is primarily different from coworker incivility due to the
legitimacy of the behavior. Incivility by high-status person in the workplace might be
seen as legitimate (Moon et al., 2018; Porath et al., 2008), given the greater behavioral

freedom of high-status individuals (Galinsky, Gruenfeld, & Magee, 2003). A number of
behaviors are viewed as appropriate or legitimate for individuals with high status
individuals (Chekroun & Brauer, 2002; Guinote, Judd, & Brauer, 2002; Keltner,
Gruenfeld, & Anderson, 2003; Overbeck, Tiedens, & Brion, 2006) even when those
behaviors breach social norms (Chekroun & Brauer, 2002; Keltner et al., 2003).
Accordingly, supervisory incivility may be not considered as the lack of consideration
or respect thus the supervisor is less likely blamed for such behavior.
Familiarity between parties in a relationship also influences the appraisal of each
side about the behavior of the counterpart. People are expected to control their emotional
display in interaction with strangers but tend to freely share the real selves in familiar
relationships (Grandey et al., 2010). Rude expressions (e.g., anger) from whom we know
well may be perceived as the recognization and the need of solving a problem. Also
according to Grandey et al. (2010), coworkers and supervisors, who interact with each
other in daily work, are more familiar than customers. In comparison with employee –
supervisor dyad, coworkers are more likely to have close relationships because of their
Based on this background, the first hypothesis is expressed as:


Hypothesis 1: Customer incivility will have strongest effect on employee anger,
followed by supervisor incivility, and finally coworker incivility.
2.3.2. Incivility and Employee Fear
Supervisor incivility may lead to employee’s perceptions of uncertain “danger” or
“threat” – the triggers of fear. Incivility by supervisors probably generalizes and brings
along other unfavorable events (e.g., low ratings or punishments) (Schilpzand et al.,
2016). Incivility from someone with formal power may signal to the victim that he or
she matters less, and that his or her position within the organization is in jeopardy
(Kivimaki et al., 2005). Supervisor incivility, thus, possibly results in employee

perception of job insecurity (Hershcovis & Barling, 2010). Because the signal about
intent to harm of incivility is ambiguous (Andersson & Pearson, 1999), the danger to
the employee is vague. This is a condtion in which individuals cannot know what they
should do about the danger (Smith & Lazarus, 1990); the evaluation of low emotionfocused coping potential, thus, leads to fear.
According to social power theory, some individuals are confered greater power
than others in their society or organizations through social expectations and norms
(Cortina et al., 2001). In the employee – customer relationship, the customer receives
more power and is in a higher status (Grandey et al., 2004; Van der Doef & Maes, 1999)
due to the widespread philosophy of “the customer is always right” (Akkawanitcha,
Patterson, Buranapin, & Kantabutra, 2015; Bishop & Hoel, 2008; Yagil, 2008).
Basically, companies require service workers treating customers with friendliness and
engagingness even when they face customer abuse (Fuller & Smith, 1996; Handy, 2006;
Hughes & Tadic, 1998). By this requirement, organizations also give customers the
notion that they are in control of the relationship with the employee (Handy, 2006). In
addition, the job of a service employee is to let the customer being importance and thus

enhance his or her status (Hochschild, 2012). This notion suggests that the customer is
superior while the employee enacts a subordinate role in service contexts in which the
employee should do everything to satisfy customer needs (Shamir, 1980). The inequality
in the customer – employee relationship is accepted by both of the parties (Yagil, 2008).
Service employees often view the customer as a “second boss” with power over the
employee (Grandey et al., 2004). Confered a high status, customers are encouraged to
behave freely (Yagil, 2008). Thus like supervisor incivility, customer incivility may be
seen as legitimate (Galinsky et al., 2003; Moon et al., 2018), given the greater behavioral
freedom of high-status individuals (Galinsky et al., 2003). A customer might interact in
an uncivil manner with an employee, for example, raising his or her voice, but the
employee might not consider this behavior as unappropriate (van Jaarsveld et al., 2010).
Therefore, like supervisors, customers are less likely blamed by the employee for uncivil

Customer incivility may lead to the employee fear by two ways. First, customer
incivility may signal a threat to the achievement of employee job goals and valued
resources. In the service context, customers possess two types of power over service
employees: reward power which means that the customer can influence commissions
through the transaction; and coercive power is reflected in the customer’s ability to alter
the service provider (Walker, Churchill, & Ford, 1972). Service employees are
responsible for making customers feel positive (Hochschild, 2012) and expect for the
customer’s appreciation as a needed service is being provided (Sliter et al., 2012). Thus,
customer incivility, a violation of harmonious interpersonal interaction (Porath et al.,
2008), signals the customer dissatisfaction with service (Yagil, 2008). Customer
mistreatment communicates that the employee is not accomplishing job goals and will
probably miss some valued resources, such as tips or commissions (Grandey, Kern, &
Frone, 2007). Especially, because commission is an important income of service