Green and Mean: Envy and Social Undermining in Organizations

In this chapter, we develop a model of envy and unethical decision making. We postulate that unfavorable comparisons will induce envy in outperformed coworkers, who are subsequently motivated to engage in unethical acts to harm the envied target. In particular, we consider the differential effects of unfavorable individual-level and unfavorable group-level social comparisons on attitudes and norms for engaging in social undermining behaviors. Envy is a self-sanctioned emotion and often difficult to detect. Even so, envy is likely to be both prevalent in and harmful to organizations. Organizational culture may play an important role in moderating the prevalence and consequences of envy within organizations. For example, managerial actions designed to boost organizational identity may significantly curtail envy within their organization.


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