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Discrete Incivility Events and Team Performance: A Cognitive Perspective on a Pervasive Human Resource (HR) Issue

Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management

ISBN: 978-1-80043-076-1, eISBN: 978-1-80043-075-4

ISSN: 0742-7301

Publication date: 24 July 2020


Incivility is widespread in the workplace and has been shown to have significant affective and behavioral consequences. However, the authors still have a limited understanding as to whether, how and when discrete incivility events impact team performance. Adopting a resource depletion perspective and focusing on the cognitive implications of such events, the authors introduce a multi-level model linking the adverse effects of such events on team members’ working memory – the “workbench” of the cognitive system where most planning, analyses, and management of goals occur – to team effectiveness. The model which the authors develop proposes that that uncivil interpersonal behavior in general, and rudeness – a central manifestation of incivility – in particular, may place a significant drain on individuals’ working memory capacity, affecting team effectiveness via its effects on individual performance and coordination-related team emergent states and action-phase processes. In the context of this model, the authors offer an overarching framework for making sense of disparate findings regarding how, why and when incivility affects performance outcomes at multiple levels. More specifically, the authors use this framework to: (a) suggest how individual-level cognitive impairment and weakened coordinative team processes may mediate these incivility-based effects, and (b) explain how event, context, and individual difference factors moderators may attenuate or exacerbate these cognition-mediated effects.



Riskin, A., Bamberger, P., Erez, A. and Zeiger, A. (2020), "Discrete Incivility Events and Team Performance: A Cognitive Perspective on a Pervasive Human Resource (HR) Issue", Buckley, M.R., Wheeler, A.R., Baur, J.E. and Halbesleben, J.R.B. (Ed.) Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management (Research in Personnel and Human Resources Management, Vol. 38), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 223-258.



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