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DO JERKS GET AHEAD? THE CONSEQUENCES OF INCIVILITY FOR SOCIAL RANK
Keywords: Aggression; Deviance; Incivility; Power; Social status
Abstract: We investigate the consequences of incivility for leaders’ status and power. Across two studies, we find evidence that behaving uncivilly harms a leader’s social standing. Compared to civil leaders, uncivil leaders were accorded lower social status by team members and observers. Study 1 observes the relation between incivility and status in a longitudinal data set collected from management consulting teams at three points in time. Study 2 utilizes an experimental design to further establish the causal effect of incivility and to demonstrate that dampened perceptions of integrity are one key mechanism underlying the loss of social standing. In Study 2, incivility harmed the social status of its targets, as well. We found no evidence that incivility demonstrates power. Overall, incivility causes a loss of social standing for leaders and targets alike, whereas civil individuals appear more suitable for powerful positions.