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August, 2009 | 1 Lea Ellwardt University of Groningen / ICS Joe Labianca University of Kentucky Rafael Wittek University of Groningen / ICS Who Are the.

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Presentation on theme: "August, 2009 | 1 Lea Ellwardt University of Groningen / ICS Joe Labianca University of Kentucky Rafael Wittek University of Groningen / ICS Who Are the."— Presentation transcript:

1 August, 2009 | 1 Lea Ellwardt University of Groningen / ICS Joe Labianca University of Kentucky Rafael Wittek University of Groningen / ICS Who Are the Objects of Positive and Negative Gossip at Work?

2 | 2August, 2009 Why Study Gossip? Informal, sozializing ties affect organizational outcomes Workplace gossip as mechanism to reinforce solidarity and ostracism of colleagues from network Gossip = informal evaluative talking about absent colleagues Need to distinguish between positive and negative gossip To date hardly research on objects of gossip

3 | 3August, 2009 Gossip Triad: Who Are the Objects? gossip object gossip sendergossip receiver

4 | 4August, 2009 Main Propositions Types of Gossip Positive gossip as means for interpersonal affection and solidarity Negative gossip as means for social control and ostracism Gossip as Group Process Employees simultaneously embedded in work groups and organizational network Group membership and social position in the broader network determine likelihood of being gossiped about

5 | 5August, 2009 Group-level Hypotheses Employees of a group are goal interdependent Benefits of socializing within group Costs of negative gossip high within groups (solidarity norm), but much lower outside groups Use negative gossip against rivaling groups for social comparison, group identity, discrimination H1: Positive gossip is about employees from the gossipers work group. H2: Negative gossip is about employees outside the gossipers work group.

6 | 6August, 2009 Network-level Hypotheses Again, invest solidarity in important others: people high in social status (bask in glory, hope for reciprocity) High costs of negative gossip due to supporters and retaliation Low costs of negative gossip about low-status people no defenders (picking on the weak) H3: Positive gossip is about people high in social status. H4: Negative gossip is about people low in social status.

7 | 7August, 2009 Negative gossip as means for norm enforcement and ostracism by the entire group Uneven distribution among colleagues, focus on single individuals (picking on a few) Social norm to dislike someone black sheep H5: Negative gossip in organizational networks is concentrated on a small number of objects (scapegoats or black sheep). Network-level Hypotheses

8 | 8August, 2009 Model Ostracism Negative gossip about an employee Solidarity Positive gossip about an employee Solidarity Positive gossip about an employee Social status in the informal network Centrality in friendship network Social status in the informal network Centrality in friendship network Shared group membership Formal work units in the organization Shared group membership Formal work units in the organization Ostracism Negative gossip about an employee Ostracism Negative gossip about an employee H1 H2 H3 H4 H5

9 | 9August, 2009 Research Design Data collection in Spring 2008 One department in a medium-sized Dutch child care organization Population: mostly female social workers in part-time Flat hierarchy: one line-manager supervises all others Computer-assisted questionnaire Response rate = 83% N = 30

10 | 10August, 2009 Measures Dependent variables Gossip about colleagues (negative and positive) Independent variables Formal work groups Social status = in-eigenvector centrality in friendship network (UCINET VI) Controls Social relationships (valued network) Contact frequency (valued network) Job satisfaction (attribute)

11 | 11August, 2009 Peer-rated gossip about colleagues Alter gossiped about object Reduced biases of social desirability and self-serving attribution Reduced impact of non- response cf. research on bullying object ego (informant) alter

12 | 12August, 2009 Method of Analysis Exponential Random Graph Modeling (ERGM), also called p* model Statistical package: SIENA-p* in STOCNET Two models: Negative/mixed gossip network Positive gossip only network overlap was eliminated

13 | 13August, 2009 Negative Gossip – Scapegoating Circle sizes represent social status (in-eigenvector friendships)

14 | 14August, 2009 Positive Gossip – broadly distributed Circle sizes represent social status (in-eigenvector friendships)

15 | 15August, 2009 ERGM Results picking on the weak scape- goating

16 | 16August, 2009 Conclusion & Discussion Choice of gossip object driven by group solidarity and social status Social status affects positive and negative gossip differently group picking scapegoats (bullying) Shared group membership leads to both positive and negative gossip showing and reinforcing solidarity within groups (social control) inderdependence creates any type of gossip

17 | 17August, 2009 Conclusion & Discussion Limitations Context specific findings Cross-sectional design Future research Elaborate on outcomes of gossip: Ostracism and integration of individuals over time (structural holes vs. closure)

18 August, 2009 | 18 Thank you for listening! …Questions or comments?


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