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The Nature of Collective Reactions to Potential Transgressions

Looking Back, Moving Forward: A Review of Group and Team-Based Research

ISBN: 978-1-78190-030-7, eISBN: 978-1-78190-031-4

Publication date: 19 September 2012


Purpose – To motivate efforts within the ethics, fairness, and justice literatures to address some largely unexamined questions regarding how reactions to potential transgressions might depend on the group context.

Design/approach – We draw on prior literature on ethics, fairness, and justice to develop a framework that highlights gaps in the literature. We develop a section on future work that provides suggestions to researchers on how to address these gaps.

Findings – Although it is important to understand how to prevent transgressions from being committed, we start from the point of view that they are likely to remain an unfortunate aspect of organizational life. Thus, it is important to consider how people not only interpret transgressions, but also how they might respond after such transgressions occur. Through a review of the prior literature, we highlight the relative lack of research on such responses, particularly at a collective level, by considering (1) the types and implications of attributions made for transgressions in a group context and (2) how collective reactions to potential transgressions may ultimately differ from those of individuals.

Originality/value – We attempt to spur greater understanding of how groups understand and collectively react to potential transgressions. By doing so, we motivate greater attention toward an important, though underexplored, area in the literature.



Kim, P.H. and Harmon, D.J. (2012), "The Nature of Collective Reactions to Potential Transgressions", Neale, M.A. and Mannix, E.A. (Ed.) Looking Back, Moving Forward: A Review of Group and Team-Based Research (Research on Managing Groups and Teams, Vol. 15), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Leeds, pp. 115-132.



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