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The relationship between tolerance for workplace incivility and jobs search behavior in light of cynicism

The relationship between tolerance for workplace incivility and jobs search behavior in light of cynicism

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According to Andersson and Pearson (1999, p. 457), workplace incivility is "low-intensity deviant behavior with ambiguous intent to harm the target, in violation of workplace norms for mutual respect." In the workplace, incivility manifests itself in rude, unfriendly, or disrespectful behavior and is viewed as a cause of low-intensity stress, comparable to the everyday annoyances employees regularly experience (Lim & Lee, 2011). Chronic work-related stress has been shown to negatively impact employee health and productivity, and has been linked to a number of unfavourable work outcomes (Ghosh, Reio, & Bang, 2013).


Despite management's 'Spotty' responses to incivility in the workplace, it was just recently included in a large narrative review (Schilpzand, De Pater, & Erez, 2016). Sguera et al. (2016) find that managers routinely ignore rude behavior. Indeed, managers may not take any action against incivility and that is called tolerance for workplace incivility which leads to many negative behaviors like job search behavior. The relationship between tolerance for workplace incivility (TWI) and job search behavior as influenced by cynicism is not yet investigated enough and more researches are needed to prove the relationships between these variables. Among the few studies that have looked at TWI as an independent variable with a causal relationship to diverse outcomes in the Australian public sectors, Loi and colleagues' research stands out from the others (Loi, Loh, & Hine, 2015).


Employees today appear to be more skeptical than ever before because of widespread corporate mistrust, scandals, and opportunistic behaviors. A cynical outlook on work is characterized by a lack of enthusiasm, emotional investment, and personal investment in one's work. Cynicism is considered to develop when people lose faith in their organization (Chiaburu, Peng, Oh, Banks, & Lomeli, 2013) and serves as a defense mechanism against additional harm. Intuitively, it seems that the pursuit of immunity might take precedence over looking for a new job.


Hooft, Born, Taris, Flier, and Blonk (2004) noted that the first step in employee turnover is job search behavior (JSB), commonly known as actively looking for a new job. Job-seeking behavior (JSB) is described as "actions taken to learn about and create employment opportunities in the labor market" (Boswell, Zimmerman, & Swider, 2012, p.129). Job Search Behavior (JSB) entails looking for work and gathering data on potential careers to apply for.


Workplace aggression has been shown to have a disproportionately negative impact on those in the hospitality business (Johns & Menzel, 1999). According to some studies, employees in the service industry would be less effective if they were treated rudely.


In summary: Tolerance for workplace incivility is unfair behavior and top management in the hospitality industry should know that talented employees will quit their jobs because of that. But before quitting, they will engage in job search behavior. The situation will be worse if cynicism is prospering in the organization.



Andersson, L. M., & Pearson, C. M. (1999). Tit for tat? The spiraling effect of incivility in the workplace. Academy of Management Review, 24(3), 452–471.

Boswell, W., Zimmerman, R., & Swider, B. (2012). Employee job search: Toward an understanding of search context and search objectives. Journal of Management, 38(1), 129–163.

Chiaburu, D. S., Peng, A. C., Oh, I.-S., Banks, G. C., & Lomeli, L. C. (2013). Antecedents and consequences of employee organizational cynicism: A meta-analysis. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 83(2), 181–197.

Ghosh, R., Reio, T., & Bang, H. (2013). Reducing turnover intent: Supervisor and co-worker incivility and socialization-related learning. Human Resource Development International, 16(2), 169–185.

Johns, N., & Menzel, P. (1999). If you can’t stand the heat! Kitchen violence and culinary art. International Journal of Hospitality Management, 18, 99–109.

Lim, S., & Lee, A. (2011). Work and non-work outcomes of workplace incivility: Does family support help? Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 16(1), 95–111.

Loi, N. M., Loh, J. M., & Hine, D. W. (2015). Don’t rock the boat: The moderating role of gender in the relationship between workplace incivility and work withdrawal. Journal of Management Development, 34(2), 169–186

Schilpzand, P., De Pater, I. E., & Erez, A. (2016). Workplace incivility: A review of the literature and agenda for future research. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 37, S57–S88

Sguera, F., Bagozzi, R. P., Huy, Q. N., Bossd, R. W., David, S., & Boss, D. S. (2016). Curtailing the harmful effects of workplace incivility: The role of structural demands and organization-provided resources. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 95–96, 115–127

Van Hooft, E. A. J., Born, M. P., Taris, T. W., & van der Flier, H. (2005). Predictors and outcomes of job search behavior: The moderating effects of gender and family situation. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 67(2), 133–152.