The Trouble with Sanctions: Organizational Responses to Deviant Anger Displays at Work
Human Relations, 64 (2), pp. 201-230, 2011, DOI: 10.1177/0018726710375482
30 Pages Posted: 13 Feb 2016 Last revised: 16 Dec 2016
Date Written: 2011
This article examines management and coworker reactions to employee anger expressions that violate salient emotion display norms, for example, deviant anger, and explores whether these reactions can promote subsequent positive change at work. Full-time US employees volunteered information about workplace anger expressions they personally witnessed and felt 'went too far'. Using open-ended survey questions, we identified three categories of deviant anger (physical acts, intense verbal displays, and inappropriate communication), as well as various formal and informal sanctioning and supportive responses initiated by organizational observers. Additional data collection and generalized linear modeling analysis revealed that when coworkers and management responded supportively to the angry employee (rather than with sanctions or doing nothing), favorable change occurred, improving the problematic situation. Implications for future research, management practices, and employee socialization are discussed.
Keywords: aggression, compassionate cultures, emotion in organizations, organizational deviance, sanctions, workplace anger
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