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Paradoxical Relationships of Workplace Mistreatment

Katharine McMahon (Portland State University, USA)
Jamie Pockrandt (Portland State University, YSA)
Stefanie Fox * (Portland State University, USA)
Nick Zike * (Portland State University, USA)
Liu-Qin Yang (Portland State University, USA)

Examining the Paradox of Occupational Stressors: Building Resilience or Creating Depletion

ISBN: 978-1-80455-086-1, eISBN: 978-1-80455-085-4

Publication date: 10 October 2022


Past research has primarily focused on the negative impact of workplace mistreatment or aggression on the individuals involved, workgroups, and organizations. Certain circumstances, however, create paradoxical effects in which mistreatment positively relates to desirable workplace outcomes and characteristics at the individual and/or organizational level. Reviewing the theoretical and empirical evidence of beneficial outcomes provides researchers and practitioners with a more comprehensive understanding of the progression of workplace mistreatment, allowing them to target specific mechanisms to mitigate detrimental effects and potentially discover important avenues that lead to desired outcomes. A qualitative review of 13 articles demonstrated that different forms of aggression such as bullying, abusive supervision, incivility, and ostracism have positive relationships with paradoxical outcomes and characteristics such as resilience, prosocial behaviors, socially desirable behaviors, job performance, job satisfaction, and creativity. The authors caution against leveraging mistreatment as a method for producing these desired outcomes; instead, the authors encourage researchers and practitioners to utilize the information to further their understanding of the nomological network of workplace mistreatment and its underlying mechanisms, such as cognitive reappraisal and social learning.




We would like to thank Collin O’Bryan and Alison Hunt for their contributions to the literature review and coding stages of this project.


McMahon, K., Pockrandt, J., Fox, S., Zike, N. and Yang, L.-Q. (2022), "Paradoxical Relationships of Workplace Mistreatment", Perrewé, P.L., Harms, P.D. and Chang, C.-H.(D). (Ed.) Examining the Paradox of Occupational Stressors: Building Resilience or Creating Depletion (Research in Occupational Stress and Well Being, Vol. 20), Emerald Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 151-170.



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