Year of Publication

2013

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Document Type

Doctoral Dissertation

College

Business and Economics

Department

Management

First Advisor

Dr. Giuseppe (Joe) Labianca

Abstract

My dissertation examines how individuals respond to workplace social comparisons. I measure the explicit set of referent others that individuals compare themselves against in order to evaluate their own level of performance. I examine how the social context of these comparisons impact discretionary performance related behaviors by examining how an individual’s position within a social network and the structural characteristics of an individual’s reference group influences the experience of discrete emotions. Specifically, I examine how malicious envy and benign envy mediate the relationship between social comparison and workplace behavior in a field setting. Results indicate that social network structure plays a significant role in motivating both productive and counterproductive responses to social comparison. Whether or not an employee responds to upward social comparisons by increasing their own work effort or engaging in deviant behavior is influenced by the experience of benign and malicious envy, which is in turn influencedby the network structure of reference groups. Furthermore, social network position plays a moderating role in the occurrence of workplace deviance by either enhancing or limiting the opportunities an employee has to engage in deviant behavior.

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