When is Employee Retaliation Acceptable at Work? Evidence from Quasi-Experiments

25 Pages Posted: 7 Sep 2010

See all articles by Gary Charness

Gary Charness

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Department of Economics

David I. Levine

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business

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Abstract

When is employee retaliation acceptable in the workplace? We use a quasi-experimental design to study the acceptability of several forms of retaliatory behavior at work, gathering data in this untested area. Consistent with hypotheses from theories of fairness, we find that employee retaliation in the workplace is perceived to be more acceptable if it is an act of omission instead of an act of commission. We do not find that a more damaging retaliatory act is significantly less acceptable than a less damaging one, suggesting a qualitative rather than a quantitative relationship. We also find individual differences: Respondents who are older, female, politically conservative, and managers typically show less tolerance for retaliation, while union members are a bit more accepting than average.

Suggested Citation

Charness, Gary and Levine, David Ian, When is Employee Retaliation Acceptable at Work? Evidence from Quasi-Experiments. Industrial Relations: A Journal of Economy and Society, Vol. 49, Issue 4, pp. 499-523, October 2010, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1670959 or http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1468-232X.2010.00614.x

Gary Charness (Contact Author)

University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) - Department of Economics ( email )

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David Ian Levine

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

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United States
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