Sunday, September 30, 2018

Does Using Voodoo Dolls of Your Boss Work As Retaliation For Wrongs Committed By Said Boss?

I am very reluctantly commending to the reader's attention the research that led to this year's Ig Nobel prize in Economics.

From Harvard's Improbable Research:
ECONOMICS PRIZE [CANADA, CHINA, SINGAPORE, USA] — Lindie Hanyu Liang, Douglas Brown, Huiwen Lian, Samuel Hanig, D. Lance Ferris, and Lisa Keeping, for investigating whether it is effective for employees to use Voodoo dolls to retaliate against abusive bosses.

REFERENCE: "Righting a Wrong: Retaliation on a Voodoo Doll Symbolizing an Abusive Supervisor Restores Justice," Lindie Hanyu Liang, Douglas J. Brown, Huiwen Lian, Samuel Hanig, D. Lance Ferris, and Lisa M. Keeping, The Leadership Quarterly, February 2018.

WHO ATTENDED THE CEREMONY: Hanyu Liang, Douglas J. Brown, Huiwen Lian, D. Lance Ferris, and Lisa M. Keeping
This potentially dangerous research was deliberately omitted from our coverage two weeks ago:
Well, Another Year's Ig Nobel Prize Awards Are In The Can and the Winners Are...

However, upon deep reflection, and after much argument, we've decided the pure quest for knowledge outweighs the risks to bosses everywhere.

Via ScienceDirect: 

Righting a wrong: Retaliation on a voodoo doll symbolizing an abusive supervisor restores justice
When a subordinate receives abusive treatment from a supervisor, a natural response is to retaliate against the supervisor. Although retaliation is dysfunctional and should be discouraged, we examine the potential functional role retaliation plays in terms of alleviating the negative consequences of abusive supervision on subordinate justice perceptions. Based on the notion that retaliation following mistreatment can restore justice for victims, we propose a model whereby retaliation following abusive supervision alleviates the negative effect of abusive supervision on subordinate justice perceptions. In two experimental studies (Study 1 and 2), whereby we manipulated abusive supervision and subordinate symbolic retaliation—in particular, harming a voodoo doll that represents the abusive supervisor—we found general support for our predictions. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
When a subordinate is subjected to abusive supervision such as public ridicule, yelling, scapegoating, or other forms of supervisor mistreatment, a natural response for the subordinate is to directly retaliate against the abusive supervisor (Bies & Tripp, 1996). Indeed, a growing body of studies (e.g., Lian, Brown, Ferris, Liang, Keeping, & Morrison, 2014; Mitchell & Ambrose, 2007) and meta-analyses (Mackey, Frieder, Brees, & Martinko, 2017; Schyns & Schilling, 2013) suggests that a relationship exists between abusive supervision and subsequent subordinate retaliation. 

Unfortunately, retaliation—or actions “in response to some perceived harm or wrongdoing by another party that is intended to inflict damage” (Aquino, Tripp, & Bies, 2001, p. 53)—would seem to have destructive consequences for all parties involved. For instance, retaliation is detrimental to supervisor-subordinate relationships, such that it can escalate conflict, resulting in further acts of supervisory abuse (Aquino et al., 2001; Pruitt & Rubin, 1986; Tepper et al., 2009). Moreover, retaliation can result in expensive lawsuits (Perry, 2000) as well as undermine employee job performance (Robinson & Greenberg, 1998). Given these negative effects, various researchers have argued that retaliation should be avoided (e.g., Folger & Baron, 1996; Lian, Brown, et al., 2014).

Yet, despite these negative consequences, retaliation appears to be relatively common. For example, surveys have shown that 76% of employees reported engaging in aggression towards their supervisor over the past year (Greenberg & Barling, 1999), and that employees aggress towards their supervisor as much as they do towards other coworkers, perhaps more so (Baron, Neuman, & Geddes, 1999)...