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Kindness among colleagues; identifying and exploring the gaps in employment contexts

Stephen Gibb (School of Business and Enterprise, University of the West of Scotland, Paisley, UK)
Shama Rahman (Independent Consultant, Coventry, UK)

International Journal of Organizational Analysis

ISSN: 1934-8835

Article publication date: 19 December 2018

Issue publication date: 8 July 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this study is to model and explore kindness as a factor in employment contexts. “Kindness among colleagues” is a particular context for the scientific study of kindness which has been under-researched. There is scope within the burgeoning study of kindness for research concerned with employment contexts and colleagues, adopting an employment context appropriate construct of kindness, generating and considering evidence that might be evaluated rigorously in the employment context where kindness is both advocated and critiqued.

Design/methodology/approach

The literature review identifies and explores the gaps in kindness research in the employment context. A construct distinguishing a set of antecedents of kindness among colleagues was developed to address these gaps. The relevance and usefulness of the construct was tested in semi-structured interviews among some work colleagues in a specific organization setting.

Findings

The results show that the four antecedents of kindness can be used to capture and explore perceptions and experiences of kindness among colleagues. There is scope for analysis at the levels of individuals, teams and organizations using data about these antecedents which allows for individual and more general workplace dynamics to be described and explored.

Research limitations/implications

The antecedents of kindness construct are validated to an extent by this initial study. The potential of this for describing and analyzing kindness and workplace relevant themes makes it worth further development; to refine and validate an instrument for measuring kindness among colleagues.

Practical implications

Kindness among colleagues, if understood in the nuanced way presented here, can help individuals, teams and organizations review and evaluate themselves in diverse contexts. Contexts can be expected to vary with workforce demographics, leadership style and organization cultures.

Social implications

Kindness is a burgeoning theme and concern across diverse social and cultural contexts for various reasons. The scientific contribution to the advocacy or critique of kindness, in this case kindness among colleagues, provides value in rigor, operationalization and evidencing of the case for and against advocacy of the value of kindness in general.

Originality/value

This is a focused review and study of kindness among colleagues which contributes to the nomological and methodological development of a scientific approach to organizational analysis concerns with this important theme in contemporary times.

Keywords

Citation

Gibb, S. and Rahman, S. (2019), "Kindness among colleagues; identifying and exploring the gaps in employment contexts", International Journal of Organizational Analysis, Vol. 27 No. 3, pp. 582-595. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOA-02-2018-1357

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2018, Emerald Publishing Limited