The Effects of Punishment on Observers: A Model and Empirical Demonstration
Peterson, Jeffrey Glen
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Punishment is an unpleasant but necessary part of organizational life. Common wisdom suggests that punishing employees for undesirable behaviors is not as effective as rewarding them for desirable behaviors, leading managers to avoid punishment. Recent research has placed more importance on the idea that punishment is a social experience, and that more should be considered than the direct effectiveness of punishment on the behavior of the recipient. However, the way that punishment affects those who observe it is not fully understood. This dissertation proposes that the impact of punishment episodes on observers of the punishment is a function of the violation's characteristics, the violator's characteristics, and the response of the manager. It also proposes that the effects on observers are mediated by a combination of their justice perceptions and social learning. It then tests some of the propositions from that model.