The Effects of Civility on Advice, Leadership, and Performance
Journal of Applied Psychology
American Psychological Association
© 2016 APA, all rights reserved
Workplace incivility is rampant and on the rise—with costs to individuals and organizations. Despite the increased need for civility, little is known about potential individual benefits of civility, defined as behavior involving politeness and regard for others in the workplace, within workplace norms for respect (Andersson & Pearson, 1999). Recent research has suggested that being civil may be hazardous to influence, power, and income (see Forni, 2002; Judge et al., 2012).Yet, throughout history, civil behavior has been extolled because it paid dividends to the person who behaved well. The focus of this research is whether that holds true in organizations. Using social exchange theory, we developed hypotheses about how civility benefits people, and investigated this in 2 studies. First, in a 2-wave social network study of a research and development department (n = 31) of a biotechnology firm, we found that people who perceived a colleague as civil would be more likely to seek that person out for work advice and to see that person as a leader. The more the individual was perceived as civil by others in his or her network, the better his or her performance. Being sought out for work advice and being viewed as a leader mediated this effect. In the second experiment (n = 162), we extended our understanding of what drove these benefits. We found that people who are civil were perceived as warm and competent, and these positive perceptions, in turn, helped to explain the benefits garnered. We discuss theoretical and practical implications.
This is the author accepted manuscript. The final version is available from the American Psychological Association via the DOI in this record.
Vol. 100 (5), pp. 1527 - 1541