This week we bring together a few articles considering aggression and hostility in the workplace.

Board of director gender and corporate tax aggressiveness
This study examines the impact of board of director gender diversity on corporate tax aggressiveness. Based on a sample of 418 U.S. firms covering the 2006–2009 period (1672 firm-year observations), ordinary least squares regression results show a negative and statistically significant association between female representation on the board and tax aggressiveness after controlling for endogeneity.

Results are consistent across several measures of tax aggressiveness and additional robustness checks.

Roman Lanis, Grant Richardson and Grantley Taylor. 2017. Board of Director Gender and Corporate Tax Aggressiveness: An Empirical Analysis.
Journal of Business Ethics, 2017, 144(3), 577–596.


Hostile takeovers viewed through Just War Theory 
This paper examines the dynamics of hostile takeovers (HT’s) as a form of corporate warfare. There are a number of compelling reasons for believing this to be an accurate approximation to corporate reality and therefore an appropriate analogy. In circumstances where it is all-too easy for either of the protagonists to act unethically (Berle and Means, 1991), there is an evident need for an appropriate template through which to analyse and evaluate the ethical dilemmas that HT’s inevitably raise (Armour and Skeel, 2007)—whilst also, where possible, employing its prescriptions as a means of corporate conflict resolution.

This paper evaluates just war theory (JWT) as one such template. In seeking a conceptually adaptable framework for analysing, interpreting and articulating antagonistic behaviour during a HT, it became apparent in the course of the research that JWT provided a potentially useful and viable template within which to pursue the above.

The research questions centre not necessarily on whether this template could in some way be a substitute for statutory and regulatory constraints on unethical conduct but, rather, whether it might better inform all stakeholders of the importance of ethically informed restraint in the interest of the greater good.

Michael Kinsella. 2017. Hostile Takeovers—An Analysis Through Just War Theory.
Journal of Business Ethics, 146(4), 771–786.


Violence, aggression and unethical behaviour 
Can exposure to media portrayals of human violence impact an individual’s ethical decision making at work? Ethical business failures can result in enormous financial losses to individuals, businesses, and society.

Joshua Gubler and his team study how exposure to human violence—especially through media—can cause individuals to make less ethical decisions. Gubler et al. present three experiments, each showing a causal link between exposure to human violence and unethical business behaviour, and show this relationship is mediated by an increase in individual hostility levels as a result of exposure to violence.

Using observational data, the authors then provide evidence suggesting that this relationship extends beyond the context of these experiments, showing that companies headquartered in locations marked by greater human violence are more likely to fraudulently misstate their financial statements and exhibit more aggressive financial reporting. Combined, the results suggest that exposure to human violence has significant and real effects on an individual’s ethical decision making.

Joshua R. Gubler, Skye Herrick, Richard A. Price & David A. Wood. 2018. Violence, Aggression, and Ethics: The Link Between Exposure to Human Violence and Unethical Behavior.
Journal of Business Ethics, 147(1), 25–34.


What do we know about psychopathy in the workplace? 
The influx of attention regarding psychopathy in the workplace by media and scholars alike has increased dramatically over the last two decades. Nevertheless, this attention has greatly outstripped the scientific evidence, and strong claims regarding the toxic effects of workplace psychopathy in the absence of research continue unabated.

The present article for the first time brings together the diverse and growing scientific literature on the implications of business psychopathy for (a) occupational and academic differences, (b) workplace aggression and counterproductive behaviour, (c) ethical decision-making in the corporate world, (d) white-colour crime, and (e) leadership.

Across these domains, there is preliminary evidence that psychopathy is tied to at least some negative outcomes in the workplace, although there are also scattered suggestions of some positive outcomes. Nevertheless, because of numerous methodological limitations, definitive statements regarding the adverse and adaptive correlates of psychopathy in the workplace are premature.
The paper concludes with 10 recommendations for future scholarship in the budding field of business psychopathy.

Sarah Francis Smith and Scott O. Lilienfeld. 2013.  Psychopathy in the workplace: The knowns and unknowns.
Aggression and Violent Behavior, 18(2), 204-218.


Toxic workplace environment and its impact in higher education 
Higher education, often referred to as the ivory tower, gives the grand illusion of an environment of learned individuals with intellectual agendas and pursuits. This specialised environment is not a resistance-free fortress immune from toxic behaviours and unfair internalised institutional structures.

In this chapter, the authors provide some theoretical perspectives of a toxic workplace environment. Then the authors focus on a review of literature on toxic leadership; the conceptualisation of workplace bullying; the prevalence of academic mobbing; and the effects of toxicity on women professors in the academy. The final sections of the chapter include a discussion of implications for policy development in a toxic workplace; implications for research on toxic university environment; and concluding remarks.

Roslin Growe and William A. Person. 2017. Toxic Workplace Environment and Its Impact on Women Professors in the United States: The Imperative Need for Therapeutic Jurisprudence Practices in Higher Education.
Chapter 12 in Therapeutic Jurisprudence and Overcoming Violence Against Women, pp. 16ff.
Available at: 


The dark side of working online: workplace cyberbullying 
The introduction of new technologies created avenues for new forms of bullying. Despite an impressive body of research on cyberbullying amongst youngsters, studies in the work context have largely neglected its electronic counterpart.

In this study, Ivana Vranjes and her team define workplace cyberbullying and propose an Emotion Reaction Model of its occurrence. The model aligns with the main proposition of the Affective Events Theory (Weiss & Cropanzano, 1996), that emotions evoked by certain work events may fuel emotion driven behaviours.

However, in the model these relationships are further specified combining different literature traditions. Making inferences from the workplace bullying literature, the authors suggest work stressors to be the work events leading to cyberbullying. Furthermore, building on the literature on cyberbullying amongst youngsters, computer-mediated communication and emotions, the researchers propose discrete emotions of anger, sadness and fear to play a significant role in explaining this stressor-cyberbullying relation.

In addition, different moderators (i.e., control appraisal and emotion regulation) of this relationship are suggested and implications of the model are discussed. The concept of workplace cyberbullying is defined. A theoretical model of factors predicting workplace cyberbullying is proposed. Both victimisation and perpetration of workplace cyberbullying are accounted for. Discrete emotions are seen as drivers of cyberbullying behaviour.

Ivana Vranjes, Elfi Baillien, Heidi Vandebosch, Sara Erreygersand Hans De Witte. 2017. The dark side of working online: Towards a definition and an Emotion Reaction model of workplace cyberbullying.
Computers in Human Behavior, 69, 324-334.