Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Gossip Fiercer Than a Tiger: Effect of Workplace Negative Gossip on Targeted Employees' Innovative Behavior

Academic journal article Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal

Gossip Fiercer Than a Tiger: Effect of Workplace Negative Gossip on Targeted Employees' Innovative Behavior

Article excerpt

Workplace gossip is defined as informal and evaluative talk in an organization, usually among no more than a few individuals, and about another organizational member who is not present (Kurland & Pelled, 2000). With some exceptions (e.g., Ellwardt, Labianca, & Wittek, 2012), researchers have mainly focused on exploring the functional value of gossip for organizations, groups, and gossipers (e.g., Baumeister, Zhang, & Vohs, 2004; Kniffin & Wilson, 2010; Kurland & Pelled, 2000; Michelson & Mouly, 2004). However, although gossip may benefit organizations, groups, and gossipers, its effect on the target employee is negative in most cases (Chandra & Robinson, 2009).

Negative workplace gossip is a form of violence that is essentially a form of attack that empowers one person while disempowering another (Ellwardt et al., 2012; Grosser, Lopez-Kidwell, Labianca, & Ellwardt, 2012). Therefore, in this study we addressed a research inadequacy to facilitate understanding about the potential costs and harm of workplace gossip for the target employee. We defined workplace gossip as organizational members discussing personal information or spreading rumors about a third party. Drawing on Chandra and Robinson's (2009) work, we investigated gossip from the target employee's point of view and perception of negative workplace gossip (NWG).

Specifically, we examined the potential detrimental effect of NWG on target employees' innovative behavior in the workplace. Innovative behavior involves not only the generation of new ideas but also their dissemination and implementation (Janssen, 2000). We chose employees' innovative behavior as the outcome variable because innovation plays an increasingly important role in organizational viability and success, and employees' innovative behavior is highly valued and emphasized in enterprises (Ng & Lucianetti, 2016). In addition, as NWG is a ubiquitous phenomenon in organizations (Chandra & Robinson, 2009), it may be a salient influence on the context in which employees' innovative behavior occurs. Previous researchers have found that workplace ostracism can significantly affect creativity (Kwan, Mao, Liu, Lee, & Hui, 2012). Therefore, we proposed that NGW, as a negative event, would also affect employees' innovative behavior.

One potential way that NWG impacts targeted employees' innovative behavior is by influencing their organization-based self-esteem (OBSE), which reflects the self-perceived value that individual employees have of themselves as organizational members acting in an organizational context (Pierce, Gardner, Cummings, & Dunham, 1989), namely, their sense of personal adequacy as organizational members, and of previously having satisfied the needs of their organizational roles (Pierce et al., 1989). As employees' OBSE is affected by their organizational experience (e.g., NWG), when their OBSE has been shaped, employees tend to increase or decrease corresponding organization-related attitudes and behavior for self-verification (Swann, 2012). High-OBSE (vs. low-OBSE) employees are more likely to exhibit positive attitudes and behavior (Bowling, Eschleman, Wang, Kirkendall, & Alarcon, 2010).

In addition, we introduced creative self-efficacy to explore the boundary condition of the link between OBSE and innovative behavior. Creative self-efficacy refers to individuals' belief that they have the knowledge and skills to produce creative outcomes (Richter, Hirst, van Knippenberg, & Baer, 2012; Tierney & Farmer, 2011). Individuals with high creative self-efficacy have high confidence in their ability to engage in challenging creative activities, and strong intrinsic motivation for creative activities (Huang, Krasikova, & Liu, 2016; Richter et al., 2012). Ferris, Lian, Brown, and Morrison (2015) found that employees with low selfesteem do not necessarily verify their self-perceptions, but may engage in self-enhancement behavior. …

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