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The development and assessment of a multilevel model of team climate for incivility
thesisposted on 2022-03-28, 20:22 authored by Deanna Kate Paulin
This thesis extends our understanding of workplace incivility by investigating the multilevel construct of team climate for incivility. Recent research, which has shown that a team’s collective experiences of incivility has detrimental effects over and above employees’ personal experiences of uncivil behaviour, suggests that the full cost of incivility is underestimated and highlights the need for a better understanding of this phenomenon. Reviews of workplace incivility and team climate literature emphasise several critical gaps in our understanding of workplace incivility, particularly when it has permeated the team climate. The objective of this thesis was to address these gaps by proposing and examining a multilevel model of team climate for incivility, to in turn design and examine a team-based intervention aimed at addressing such climates. Team climate for incivility was defined as a distinct team cognition about the practices, procedures and norms that are rewarded or supported concerning workplace incivility. This is a thesis by publication, presenting four studies. The first study applied a multilevel framework to explore the conceptualisation of group level incivility as a facet-specific climate construct and developed a scale to assess this. Utilising three separate samples of Australian workers, the results lend support to the validity of the incivility climate construct across levels of analysis, as well as the utility of the Team Incivility Climate Scale (TICS). The second study demonstrated a detrimental effect of uncivil team climates on employee wellbeing, supporting the notion that the extent to which incivility affects wellbeing is influenced by characteristics of a work team and its climate. It also suggests that employees do not have to be direct targets to experience the negative effects of uncivil behaviour. Understanding those factors that lead to uncivil team climates is critical to designing effective interventions. The third study therefore examined a cross-level model of team incivility climate, which included supervisor incivility and team cohesion. The critical role of supervisor behaviour in fostering positive or negative working environments was demonstrated by the significant direct effect of supervisor incivility on uncivil team climates. The results also confirmed the hypothesis that team cohesiveness influences the extent to which incivility becomes embedded in the team climate, and acts as a moderator of the relationship between employees’ personal experiences of incivility and psychological incivility climate. The fourth and final study examined the effectiveness of a team-based intervention aimed at reducing incivility, designed using the positive findings of the first three studies. Results revealed limited success of the Positive Team Climate (PTC) intervention, with insignificant improvements in experienced incivility, supervisor incivility and team incivility climate, over the six month intervention period. Similarly, there were no significant changes in any of the employee or team outcomes during or following the intervention. The limited success of the PTC intervention reinforces the ongoing challenge for organisations aiming to address incivility and its associated costs. Contributions, implications and limitations are discussed in the final chapter together with an exploration of several directions for future research. Findings of this thesis provide scholars and practitioners with more information about the insidious nature of workplace incivility when it has permeated the team environment, how such negative climates may emerge, and possible interventions to prevent such climates emerging.