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From left, Consultants 2 Go co-owners Sandi Webster, a Fox School Executive DBA student, and Peggy McHale provide marketing and analytic consulting solutions for companies in a variety of industries. (Associated Press)
From left, Consultants 2 Go co-owners Sandi Webster, a Fox School Executive DBA student, and Peggy McHale provide marketing and analytic consulting solutions for companies in a variety of industries. (Associated Press)

Sandi Webster has always strived for self-improvement. That’s why she’s pursuing her Executive Doctorate in Business Administration at Temple University’s Fox School of Business.

In October, the Initiative for a Competitive Inner City (ICIC) and Fortune selected Webster’s company, Consultants 2 Go, to join the 2015 Inner City 100, a program that honors the nation’s fastest-growing inner-city businesses.

Based in Newark, N.J., Consultants 2 Go provides consulting and marketing services in the telecom, pharmaceutical, financial services, and insurance industries. Webster, who is pursuing her Executive Doctorate of Business Administration at Fox, founded the company in 2002 with a former colleague, Peggy McHale.

“Peggy and I are very fortunate that our company has excelled in the way that it has,” Webster said. “We’ve rapidly grown our consulting firm beyond our wildest imaginations and it’s an honor that we were recognized in this way by ICIC and Fortune.”

The Inner City 100 program “recognizes successful inner-city businesses and their CEOs as role models for entrepreneurship, innovative business practices, and job creation in America’s urban communities,” according to ICIC.

The list of companies was unveiled Oct. 7 at the Inner City 100 Conference and Awards in Boston. Winners gathered for a full-day business symposium featuring management case studies from Harvard Business School professors and interactive sessions with top CEOs. Keynote speakers included Governor Charlie Baker, and Harvard Business School Professor and ICIC Founder and Chairman Michael E. Porter.

Webster’s professional trajectory changed due, in part, to missing the bus.

Then an executive with American Express, Webster didn’t arrive to work on Sept. 11, 2001. Early-morning crowdedness on the day of New York City’s mayoral primary election kept her from catching her usual morning bus and, as a result, she never made it to her company’s building, located less than two city blocks from the World Trade Center.

“I had been with the company for 18 years and, after the attacks, I never went back to work for American Express at that building,” Webster said. “We lost so many good employees that day, and it caused the displacement of so many others. It altered the lives of everyone who was in New York City.

“I can’t tell you how many people started their own businesses after the tragedy of 9/11, simply out of need.”

After that day, Webster said she connected with McHale and began to reconsider her line of work.

Webster, whose company generated nearly $10 million in revenue in 2014, is always looking to improve. She, too, was looking to further herself.

“Being in the business world, I aspired for a higher-level degree,” she said. “I have a unique perspective, having worked in corporate America and now in representing clients in the small-business side. I can see where gaps are and help them work more efficiently.

“That’s why I chose the Fox School. I found the Executive DBA faculty to be knowledgeable. The proximity to our offices in Newark, N.J., was important, as well.”

Webster said working mothers comprise 80 percent of Consultants 2 Go’s employees. Her vision for her company, she said, is to offer flexible hours and locations for her workers.

“Corporations tend to let go of senior executives, some of whom are women, and that’s intellectual capital walking right out the door,” Webster said. “Conversely, there’s no one around to train young executives. That’s where I believe Consultants 2 Go can fill a void.

“Within the Executive DBA program, I hope to earn greater knowledge and complete research so I can more-closely work with companies to help them realize a better use for their intellectual capital.”

Franklin Douglas
Douglas Franklin

Douglas Franklin, a second-year PhD student at Temple University’s Fox School of Business, co-authored a paper that has been accepted for publication in Leadership Quarterly, a top journal. Franklin’s paper, titled “An Exploration of the Interactive Effects of Leader Trait Goal Orientation and Goal Content in Teams,” explores how leaders’ personalities and goal orientations affect teams’ task commitment, learning, and overall competency. “One of my co-authors and mentor, Dr. Christopher Porter, introduced me to the concept of leader-goal orientation, which relates to a leader’s tendency to guide their teams to focus on learning more or displaying their current knowledge when working on tasks,” said Franklin.
When working in a group, it’s inevitable that a team’s goals won’t always align with its leader’s predisposition, Franklin said. He and his fellow researchers found that, ultimately, goal orientation of leaders has a direct effect on overall team competency, for better or for worse.“When team leaders have a high tendency to encourage learning-goal orientation, it helps teams perform better when assigned performance goals,” Franklin said. “However, when team leaders have a high tendency to encourage absolute performance-goal orientation, their teams learn less when assigned learning goals.”

Franklin added that he and his fellow researchers also found that team commitment improved when leaders placed a stronger emphasis on learning goal orientation rather than on performance goal orientation. Goal Goalsorientation of leaders affects society as a whole because it is a large factor in everyday life, he said.
“Whether at work, in outside organizations, or even at home, it is important to take into consideration how your personality and your tendencies may affect those who you lead and collaborate with,” Franklin said. “Sometimes our goals do not necessarily align with subordinates, co-workers, and collaborators, which may have negative consequences if not checked.”
Though organizations typically use Big Five personality traits, and Meyers Briggs tests to understand employees during recruitment and training decisions, goal orientation may be a meaningful quasi-trait to test, Franklin said, because “it mirrors the achievement habits of people.”
At the Fox School, Franklin is pursuing his PhD in Business Administration with a concentration in Human Resource Management and Organizational Behavior. He expects to complete the doctoral program in Spring 2019 and receive a faculty appointment in higher education thereafter.
Prior to his studies at the Fox School of Business, Franklin earned a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Florida A&M University. He also earned an MBA from Rice University, and a Master’s degree in Management from Texas A&M University.

–Mary Salisbury

Soojung Han
Soojung Han

“Most research projects in my field take a couple years, during which we go through a continuous process of testing, learning, and refining ideas that will ultimately make it into the paper.” Making it onto paper is exactly what Fox School of Business PhD student, Soojung Han, has been able to achieve in her distinguished field, Human Resources Management and Organizational Behavior. Han has been able to seize her opportunities to the fullest and continues to be an example of what Fox has to offer.

Han who has not has just one, but three papers accepted this summer, is pleased to be in the company of a school and department that is determined to bring the ultimate best out of its students. “Everything about Fox is designed to allow students the opportunity to focus wholly on producing research,” Han said.

Being in an environment that offers a strong support system has allowed Han to collaborate with faculty members and develop new material, while learning to reach agreements and ultimately find the best solutions. “The faculty here are especially top-notch. My mentor and co-author, Dr. Crystal Harold (Paul Anderson Research Fellow) not only trains me in producing quality research, but also takes a personal interest in my professional future,” Han explained.

Although Han has had experience with faculty here at Fox, she continues to broaden her research activity with other collaborators. She recently co-authored with students from various institutions, “How I Get My Way. A Meta-Analytic Review of Research on Influence Tactics,” which was published in the Leadership Quarterly. This particular paper investigates the moderating effectiveness of 11 influence tactics between supervisors and subordinates, and how this relationship responds to these various directions.

“Our results indicate that certain influence tactics could be more effective than others. However, it should be noticed that the effective strategies do not always guarantee good outcomes. Thus, understanding the relative differences on outcomes can guide individuals to select and use appropriate tactics to achieve their goals at the workplace,” Han said. The meta-analysis aspect of the research has allowed Han and her co-authors to delve deeper beyond the typically inconsistent results concerning this study.

“I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work with such talented people on these projects, and I’m glad we have positive results to show for our efforts. I feel that the sense of accomplishment from these endeavors will further drive me to achieve in my future research work.” Han is in her 3rd year within the HROB department and with over four years of industry experience, she continues to make a mark for herself here at Temple’s Fox School of Business.

Sarah Diomande, SMC ‘18

Dr. Crystal Harold
Dr. Crystal Harold

Toward the end of an academic semester, students traditionally prepare to take final exams. However, students enrolled in Dr. Crystal Harold’s course at the Fox School of Business are undertaking projects centered on service and improving relationships in the Philadelphia community.

While offered at Fox, the course, titled The Leadership Experience: Leading Yourself, Leading Change, Leading Communities, is open to all honors students at Temple University.

Harold, an Associate Professor of Human Resource Management at Fox, said she created the human resource honors elective three years ago to help students learn the process of leading by organizing events that benefit the community. The course also focuses on reflection, assessment, and development on the core skill sets required of effective leaders. Throughout the semester, students are asked to identify their strengths and weaknesses as leaders in order to gain insight into their leadership evolution.

“I chose to have students focus their efforts on organizing a charitable or community-focused event for a couple of reasons,” Harold said. “First, the community aspect helps the students develop a greater appreciation for the community in which Temple University operates. Second, there is a growing interest among this generation of students engaging in social responsibility and community activism. This project not only teaches valuable lessons about both leadership and followership, but also appeals to the students’ desires to help.”

The student-led events include an April 17 charity 4-on-4 basketball tournament, to raise money for the Family Memorial Trust Fund of fallen Philadelphia Police Officer Robert Wilson III, who was killed March 5 in the line of duty.

“After hearing of the tragic passing of Officer Wilson, we decided to hold this event in order to provide his family with as much financial support as possible,” said Cameran Alavi, a senior mathematical economics major. “It’s a chance for us to come together and support a worthy cause, as well as honor the life of a great man who was loved by everyone he knew.”

Another group organized a Philly Block Clean-Up for April 18. Kevin Carpenter, an environmental science and biology double-major, said his group decided to focus on an event geared toward the improvement of environmental needs in the surrounding Temple University community.

“Having pride in the neighborhood, even though a lot of students aren’t permanent residents, is extremely important,” he said. “Making an environmental impact, helping the community at large and being able to connect with Philadelphia residents through environmental action is a great feeling.”

One group decided against hosting an event, and instead partnered with the People’s Paper Co-Op and Philadelphia Lawyers for Social Equity (PLSE) over the course of the Spring 2015 semester. People’s Paper Co-Op and PLSE offer free expungement clinics for those in the Philadelphia community who wish to clean up their criminal records and learn viable skills, like public-speaking or how to expand upon their professional networks, to help them re-enter the workforce. After sitting in on the clinics, group members will present their suggested areas of improvement on how to further develop the expungement program to the leadership of both the Co-Op and PLSE.

“One hardship of the criminal justice system is the challenge of re-entry for individuals trying to restart their lives,” said Jacob Himes, a junior double-majoring in Italian and lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender studies. “Our group attends each clinic, volunteers and looks for avenues of improvement in the program.”

Fox School junior Sarika Manavalan’s group assembled an April 19 Bookdrive Benefit Concert, to benefit Treehouse Books. Treehouse Books is a non-profit organization in North Philadelphia that serves youth in the community by giving children the opportunity to enhance their literary skills by focusing on the importance of reading. The entry fee for the event is one children’s book, or a monetary donation in lieu of one.

Manavalan said Harold’s course has provided countless intangible lessons.

“You can learn about leadership skills in the classroom but it’s really when you work hands on with other people that you develop them,” said Manavalan, who is double-majoring in Marketing and Management Information Systems (MIS) at Fox. “Whether or not our events are successful, it’s more about creating your event from scratch and learning how to work with non-profit organizations and finding ways to benefit the community.”


Scheduled Event List

4-on-4 Basketball Tournament (benefitting the Officer Robert Wilson III Family Memorial Trust Fund)
Friday, April 17, 6-9 p.m.
Cost: $20 registration fee per team
Location: Pearson Hall Courts (3rd Floor), Temple University
Contact: Cameran Alavi, cameran.alavi@temple.edu

Philly Clean-Up
Clean up areas surrounding Temple’s Campus
Saturday, April 18, 11:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Location: Meet up at Broad Street & Polett Walk
Contact: Nichole Humbrecht, tuf45006@temple.edu

Bookdrive Benefit Concert (benefitting Treehouse Books)
Sunday, April 19, 7-8:30 p.m.

Diana Kyser
Diana Kyser

Diana Kyser’s management style involves intricately fitting together a company’s puzzle pieces. Sometimes, a few pieces are missing. In most cases, the pieces are there and simply need to be arranged.

It’s a skill Kyser said she has always possessed.

“In our Navigating the Global Marketplace class, Professor (Ram) Mudambi talks about orchestrators – the kinds of people who can take a product that’s already in place and improve upon it,” Kyser said. “Professionally, that’s how I see myself. I’m a builder, a fixer.”

Kyser is a doctoral candidate in the inaugural cohort of the Executive Doctorate of Business Administration program at the Fox School of Business.

She’s also one of the leading businesswomen in New Jersey.

NJBIZ has named Kyser one of its Best 50 Women in Business for 2015.  The weekly business journal selects women who reside or maintain employment in New Jersey, and must hold a senior management position within their organization. Honorees are either self-nominated or nominated by others. (Click here for NJBIZ’s 2015 honorees.)

“This is the 10th-annual award for NJBIZ. I’ve been nominated before, but I’d never been selected, so it’s rewarding,” said Kyser, of Summit, N.J.

Kyser’s professional background is rich with leadership experience. She’s the founding partner of COO on Demand, assisting companies in tailoring their execution strategies and formalizing their operations to scale for continued growth. Kyser’s company, which was founded nearly three years ago, offers operational experts to handle bookkeeping, human resources, management communications, business strategizing, and more for companies of all sizes.

“Maybe you’re a small business that needs help with the operations side, so the owner can focus on running the product side,” Kyser said. “Maybe you have a mid-size business that needs help refining its operations or strengthening its overall business plan. Maybe you manage a big business and you need a chief operations officer on an interim basis until you can hire one. These are some of the services we offer.

“Some of these companies could really benefit from high-level, experienced talent but, at the moment, can’t afford it. We think COO on Demand is quite revolutionary.”

Ultimately, Kyser said, she envisions bringing all of COO on Demand’s employees and offerings under one roof in a call-center-like setting, with management services being rendered by phone.

“It all comes back to reducing small-business failure rate, and it’s a goal that can be achieved,” she said.

A lifelong entrepreneur, Kyser in the early 1990s helped found C3i, which blossomed into a worldwide leader in technical support services for life sciences companies. She and two other C3i cofounders sold the $75 million venture funded global technology solutions firm within the last year to Telerx, a division of Merck.

Looking for another challenge, Kyser enrolled in Fox’s Executive DBA program, which launched in Fall 2014. She’s surrounded by others like her, who hold high-level, senior leadership positions as researchers, executives or entrepreneurs. The program, which is offered by only a handful of business schools nationwide, combines research with real-world experience.

“I can’t tell you how amazingly skilled the people in this program are,” Kyser said. “Their wealth of experience and knowledge is unbelievable. I’ve always loved academics and learning, and this program puts the business piece right there with the research and learning pieces.”

Just like in Kyser’s professional career, it’s all about fitting the pieces together.

Brian Holtz
Dr. Brian Holtz, Assistant Professor of Human Resource Management

Initial impressions based upon a person’s facial features can significantly impact how we evaluate that person’s behavior, according to research by a professor from Temple University’s Fox School of Business.

Dr. Brian Holtz, Assistant Professor of Human Resource Management, conducted three studies, all of which suggested that people were more likely to accept the actions of an individual whom they initially perceived to be trustworthy.

New York Magazine and the United Kingdom’s Daily Mail recently featured Holtz’s research, which was initially published in the journal Personnel Psychology.

Holtz’s studies draw on prior psychological research demonstrating that certain facial features stimulate impressions of trustworthiness (high inner eyebrows and prominent cheekbones), while others (low inner eyebrows and shallow cheekbones) have the opposite effect.

In his first two studies, Holtz introduced participants to the biography of a fictitious CEO, which included a professional headshot, and then asked participants to gauge the CEO’s trustworthiness. Later, the participants read a description of a meeting in which the CEO announced a temporary pay reduction and were asked to evaluate how the CEO handled the situation. The subjects, Holtz said, were unaware that he had manipulated the CEO’s image to reflect either a trustworthy or untrustworthy face.

The image on the left reflects the characteristics of a face stimulate trustworthiness, while the image on the right has the opposite effect. (Source: Cogsdill et al. (2014). Psychological Science. Retrieved from https://osf.io/c5kme/)
The image on the left reflects the characteristics of a face stimulate trustworthiness, while the image on the right has the opposite effect. (Source: Cogsdill et al. (2014). Psychological Science. Retrieved from https://osf.io/c5kme/)

He found that participants who viewed the trustworthy face, tended to give the CEO the benefit of the doubt and judge the CEO’s actions to be fair. In contrast, participants who viewed an untrustworthy face evaluated the same actions to be significantly less fair.

“In essence, these results illustrate a confirmation bias, such that our initial expectations of others are often confirmed,” Holtz said. “If we expect a person to be trustworthy, for example, then we are more inclined to perceive their behavior in a favorable light.”

Participants of his third study – undergraduate students from Temple University – were asked to write a business-related memo that they were led to believe would be evaluated by a Fox School MBA student. Before writing the memo, participants viewed the LinkedIn profile of an MBA student purportedly assigned to evaluate their memo. In reality the LinkedIn profiles were fabricated to present either a trustworthy or untrustworthy face. In addition to earning research credit, participants were told they could earn a cash bonus of up to $6 depending on the quality of their memo.

Two days after the initial session, participants received a written evaluation of their memo, and were informed that they would receive a $3 cash bonus – “an ambiguous, down-the-middle ranking,” Holtz said. Then, the participants completed a questionnaire designed to assess their view of the MBA student’s evaluation of their work.

“Again, the results suggested that initial impressions of trustworthiness shaped how fairly the participants thought they were treated by the MBA student, even though all participants received the exact same outcomes,” Holtz said.

“Ultimately,” he continued, “the key takeaway point from this research is that we form initial impressions very quickly and, for better or worse, our initial impressions can have cascading effects on how we perceive subsequent interactions with others.”

If annual shareholder meetings are held far away from home headquarters, earnings results may not be as up to par as companies want them to be.

A new study by Yuanzhi “Lily” Li of the Fox School of Business at Temple University, and David Yermack of New York University, titled Evasive Shareholder Meetings, found that companies tend to schedule meetings in remote locations when managers have information about future performance they want to keep private to avoid scrutiny by shareholders, activists and media.

The research team gathered data including location, days of the week, and the start time of 9,616 annual meetings between 2006 and 2010. Their findings indicate a systematic pattern of poor company performance, which followed annual meetings that are, moved a great distance away from headquarters.

“If managers don’t want to answer questions, they’ll make it harder for shareholders to attend,” Li said.

The paper cites an example using meeting locations of TRW Automotive Holdings, an auto parts manufacturer. The company held its 2007 annual meeting in McAllen, Texas, over 1,400 miles away from its headquarter located just outside Detroit, and more than 300 miles from the nearest major airport. In 2006 and 2008 to 2010, the company held its meetings in New York City. Coincidentally, in 2007, the company’s stock price fell from $38.97 to $25.90.

“We’re surprised by just how far managers are going to avoid activists and shareholders,” Li said.

Company bylaws may specify that meetings must take place with a recurring date or location, but often times, the board of directors are given the flexibility in choosing the site of the meeting.

Li and Yermack found that seventy-one percent of shareholder meetings take place within five miles of the what the managers would refer to as the “home office,” while sixteen percent occur between five and fifty miles away. They also noticed that twenty-nine percent of annual meetings take place more than fifty miles from a major airport.

Li believes companies and managers should change their practices, making it easier for shareholders to attend these annual meetings, allowing voting to take place with a higher quorum.

“Companies should be holding annual meetings closer to home,” Li said. “ We will be glad to see a law coming that says companies should always hold meetings in a close proximity to its headquarters so that local shareholders and analysts can easily attend.”

—Alexis Wright-Whitley

 

School of Tourism and Hospitality Management Associate Professor Joel G. Maxcy and University of Oklahoma Department of Health and Exercise Science Lecturer Daniel J. Larson recently published an article titled “The industrial organization of sport coaches: Road cycling as a distinguished case” in the Journal of Sport Management.

The September 2013 paper presents a theoretical model of the organization of the sport coaching industry. It is the first study to show in formal mathematical expressions how coaches are appropriated into the employment settings of sports teams. The model, based on a variety of considered sport characteristics, predicts whether the individual athlete or the sport organization will be the direct employer of coaches. The example of professional cycling coaches is presented at length and offers empirical evidence that is consistent with the model’s predictions. Other sports settings are discussed within the paper as well.

“This work stemmed from my simple observation of the cycling coaching market, where commercially well developed teams hired almost no ‘team’ coaches, and instead the cyclists hired their coaches independently,” Larson said. “When I examined this further, it became clear that there was very little research on the overall industrial organization of coaches, let alone a theory to explain these interesting outcomes.”

Maxcy, who served as Larson’s PhD advisor at the University of Georgia, was eager to lend his expertise to this project. According to Maxcy, who has made numerous contributions in this area, the literature on industrial organization of team-sport leagues and player labor markets is quite well developed in sports economics. Nonetheless, the coaching industry, a significant part of sports, had not been modeled.

“Dan’s experience as a cycling athlete and coach provided a significant intuitive dimension that greatly helped facilitate the formal modeling process,” Maxcy said.

Larson also explained that this research could lead to improved models of the coaching industry as well as empirical tests of the theory. He said that it could be a particularly useful start for examining consulting and external training services in broader industrial settings where coached employees also work within teams.

Maxcy said that a critical contribution of this work is separating the coaches’ roles into trainer and strategist components. “In most sports, one role or the other dominates the coach’s task list, and the integration of the two roles goes a long way in the determination of the employment relationship,” he said.

Larson’s research background is largely comprised of the study of economics and marketing of competitive cycling. These endeavors were preceded by substantial work experience in cycling coaching and international professional cycling team management.

Maxcy has an extensive research background in sport labor relations and industrial organization. His related past publications include articles that have examined issues such as free agency, contract length, and compensation in professional sport.

The longer CEOs stay in the power – and a new study suggests most of them do, exceeding the optimal tenure length by about three years – the more likely chief executives are to limit outside sources of market and customer information, ultimately hurting firm performance.

Research titled, How does CEO tenure matter? The mediating role of firm-employee and firm-customer relationships, examines why a longer CEO tenure may not always produce positive results for firm performance.

The researchers — Charles Gilliland Professor of Marketing Xueming Luo and PhD candidate Michelle Andrews of the Fox School of Business at Temple University and PhD candidate Vamsi K. Kanuri of Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business at the University of Missouri — explored two primary stakeholders, employees and customers, who are influenced by CEO tenure.

From studying 365 U.S. companies over a decade (2000-10), measuring CEO tenure, and calculating the strength of both firm-employee and firm-customer relationships, researchers found that the longer a CEO serves, the stronger the firm-employee relationship becomes. However, an extended period with the same CEO results in a weakened firm-customer relationship over time.

According to the study, the average CEO holds office for 7.6 years, but the optimal tenure length is 4.8 years.

“As CEOs accumulate knowledge and become entrenched, they rely more on their internal networks – employees – for information, growing less attuned to market conditions and customers,” Luo said. “And because these longer-tenured CEOs have more invested in the firm, they favor avoiding losses over pursuing gains. Their attachment to the status quo makes them less responsive to vacillating consumer preferences.”

There are two types of learning styles CEOs adopt during their tenure: explorative and exploitive learning via external and internal information sources.

In the early stages of tenure, CEOs demonstrate a desire for a diverse flow of information and engage in receiving information from both external and internal company sources. Therefore, firm relationship between employees and customers is positive.

However, as CEOs become more knowledgeable and serve for a longer period, they begin to focus on the flow of information from internal sources versus what comes from outside markets. This is in large part due to longer-tenured CEOs becoming more risk averse because of all they have invested in their firm. This leads chief executives to resist challenging the status quo, further alienating them from market environments and weakening customer relations. Ultimately, this hurts firm performance.

“We’re not saying, ‘Fire your CEOs after 4.8 years,’” Andrews said in regard to the weakened relationship with customers after what researchers found to be the optimal tenure length. “But if company boards restructure CEO packages to cater to consumers more, you may find yourself with better results.”

If boards develop incentive plans for longer-tenured CEOs to encourage more reliance on external market trends and dynamics, customer relations – and therefore firm performance – could be enhanced.

“After all, you’re only a firm if you have customers,” Andrews said. “Without customers, no firm can prosper – or even survive.”

The full study appears online in the Strategic Management Journal.

—Alexis Wright-Whitley

 

Your work meetings are full of employees paying more attention to the text messages on their smart phones than to the individual speaking. You offer a suggestion and notice a coworker rolling his eyes in a condescending manner. You smile at a colleague in the hall who seemingly ignores you. Sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. A recent poll suggests that 98% of North-American employees have experienced incivility in the workplace. Organizational researchers describe that incivility, synonymous with rudeness, can take many shapes or forms in the workplace: ignoring or excluding someone, eye-rolling, gossiping, making demeaning remarks to or about someone, or showing little interest in another’s opinion.

If you think that failing to hold the door open for a colleague or making a joke at another’s expense are relatively harmless, researchers at the Fox School of Business at Temple University would suggest that you should think again. In their paper The Effects of Passive Leadership on Workplace Incivility, Assistant Professor and Cigna Research Fellow Crystal Harold, and Assistant Professor Brian Holtz examine the role that managers play in fostering rude behavior.

“We were interested in studying workplace incivility, and more specifically, factors that might promote the occurrence of incivility because let’s face it, just about everyone has either been treated rudely at work, treated someone else rudely at work, or both,” Harold said. “There are people out there who likely think that these sorts of behaviors are fairly innocuous. But available data would suggest otherwise.”

In their research, Harold and Holtz draw from prior incivility research indicating that victims of incivility are significantly more likely to decrease the quality of their work, be absent from the office, and ultimately leave the organization. What’s more, addressing the fallout from workplace incivility is estimated to cost companies millions of dollars each year.

“Because incivility has negative psychological and physical effects on victims and is costly for organizations, it is important that we begin to understand why incivility occurs in the first place. What conditions foster an uncivil work environment?” Holtz continued, “It made sense to us that leadership would be an important and significant variable to consider.”

Harold and Holtz conducted two studies in which they surveyed employees, their supervisors, and their colleagues to determine the role of management in workplace incivility. “We were particularly interested in passive leadership. In literature and popular press, you read a lot about either these amazing transformational leaders at one extreme, or these tyrannical nightmare bosses on the other,” Harold noted. “However, there are many managers who fall somewhere in the middle; who aren’t particularly active, who try to ignore problems, who overlook employees’ bad behaviors, or who are just generally reticent to actually manage their employees.”

Holtz added, “If someone is rude to you at work and your manager does nothing in response, you’re likely to conclude that either no one cares, or that these types of behaviors are acceptable. It is the manager’s responsibility to intervene in the face of workplace incivility. When that doesn’t happen, it creates an environment in which future uncivil acts are more likely.”

Results of their research do in fact support that employees who work under passive managers are both more likely to experience rudeness, and more likely to behave rudely themselves.

“We found that the experience of being treated with incivility coupled with working for a passive manager significantly increased the likelihood that an employee would both behave with incivility him/herself, as well as engage in withdrawal behaviors such as showing up to work late, or even calling out when not actually sick” Holtz explained. “The bottom line is that in the process of doing nothing, these types of managers are actually doing a lot of damage.”

In light of these results, Harold and Holtz offer a number of practical suggestions for
organizations wanting to deter workplace incivility. “First, you have to educate your employees and management that these seemingly harmless behaviors are anything but. Training employees, and importantly managers, to recognize what incivility is, is an important first step” Harold noted.

Companies also need to set ground rules. “Make clear which behaviors constitute incivility, clarify the consequences for engaging in these behaviors, and adopt a zero-tolerance policy. This is where managerial training comes into play. Managers must learn to intervene when employees are behaving badly towards one another, and quickly take punitive action against offenders,” Holtz said.

Harold concluded “At the end of the day, managers have to be good role models. A company’s efforts to curb rudeness will be for naught, if the manager him/herself is the one instigating the incivility.”

Harold and Holtz’s study is in press at the Journal of Organizational Behavior.
—Alexis Wright-Whitley

Porath, C.L., Pearson, C.M. “The Price of Incivility.” Harvard Business Review Jan/Feb (2013).

From the loading dock to the board room in Shantou, New Delhi or Des Moines, businesses with a strong organizational culture built on a foundation of shared values and shared vision and driven by results focused efforts on organizational change and organizational development produce valid, superior results. In this complex, global, dynamic business environment the concepts of Global, Integrated Business Leadership provide the road map for unparalleled, consistent, cross-functional results delivered the right, lasting way.