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The relationship between workplace aggression and target deviant behaviour: the moderating roles of power and task interdependence

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We investigate how employees' deviant responses to experiencing workplace aggression are shaped by the social context in which the aggressive acts occur. Drawing on the group value model and theories of belongingness, we investigated three moderators of the relationship between workplace aggression and employee deviant behaviour: (1) perpetrator formal power (relating to their position within the organization), (2) perpetrator referent power (derived from their social position at work), and (3) task interdependence between the perpetrator and victim. Participants (N=299) consisted of North American employees in a variety of industries. Power and task interdependence interacted with workplace aggression to predict the extent and the direction of deviant behaviour. Specifically, we found that when the perpetrator had high power (either formal power or referent power) and low task interdependence with the target, victims were most likely to engage in deviance directed towards the perpetrator in response to aggression. These results are consistent with the idea that perpetrator power motivates victims to retaliate, but they are most likely to do so if they are not highly dependent on the perpetrator to complete their work tasks. This study suggests that spirals of workplace aggression depend on the nature of the perpetrator-victim relationship.

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/42941/

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