WHEN LEADERS OSTRACIZE: BOTTOM-LINE MENTALITY CLIMATE AND EMOTIONAL LABOR AS PREDICTORS OF WORKPLACE OSTRACISM
Chair or Co-Chair
Dr. James Meurs
Committee Member or Co-Chair
Dr. Saurabh Gupta
Dr. Graham Lowman
Workplace ostracism is a passive, low intensity behavior associated with coworkers ignoring or excluding others. It is one of several constructs under a larger framework of workplace aggression that is harmful to the target of the ostracism and more broadly, hurts organizations. Ostracism is particularly detrimental in workplace settings because unlike the other overt, direct forms of workplace aggression, the covert, subtle nature of ostracism often leaves targets wondering if the ostracism is real or imagined. From a fiscal perspective, workplace aggression costs U.S. firms an estimated $23.8 billion annually. Research covering workplace ostracism has focused almost exclusively on the target, leaving an excellent opportunity to focus research on the source of ostracism. The handful of source-focused ostracism studies have mostly considered outcomes from the ostracism with little attention placed on potential antecedents or predictors of the use of ostracism in the workplace. This study examined the direct effects of bottom-line mentality climate, surface acting, and deep acting on workplace ostracism to identify predictors of leaders ostracizing their followers. A bottom-line mentality climate occurs in organizations with an intense focus on one performance measure at the exclusion of other important work functions and performance measures, such as emphasizing healthy interpersonal work relationships. Finally, this thesis considered the moderating effect of political skill on the relationship between bottom-line mentality climate and ostracism. The hypotheses were tested using a quasi-experimental design featuring scenario-based vignettes and a cross-sectional survey instrument. Results indicated that bottom-line mentality climate is positively associated with surface acting and ostracism, and that surface acting is positively associated with ostracism. An important theoretical contribution includes shifting workplace aggression research from the target to the source, while benefiting practitioners by helping management reduce occurrences of ostracism in organizations.
Available for download on Sunday, July 05, 2026