If you don't have something nice to say, say it anyway
Outlaw, Christopher Ryan
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Gossiping, defined as informally exchanging negative information with a colleague about an absent third person (Kurland & Pelled, 2000), is a pervasive phenomenon. By some accounts, at least 90% of employees engage in workplace gossiping (Grosser, Lopez-Kidwell, Labianca, & Ellwardt, 2012). This may be surprising given that gossiping is viewed as a counterproductive behavior within organizational research, and as something to be stamped out by many practitioners. In my dissertation, I argue that this negative viewpoint of gossip is incomplete and overly simplistic. Specifically, the purpose of my dissertation is to investigate how changes in gossiping relate to changes in perceptions of social exchange relationships, affective states, and ultimately, citizenship behavior among coworkers. First, I developed and validated a measure of gossiping extent. Next, I used an inductive approach to develop and validate a measure of gossip quality. This allowed me to explore the moderating role of gossip quality on the relationship between gossiping extent and proposed mediators and outcomes. Drawing from social exchange theory (Blau, 1964) and the cognitive-motivational-relational theory of emotions (Lazarus, 1991), I have integrated these constructs in a model of gossiping’s positive and negative consequences. I tested my hypotheses using a sample of full-time coworker dyads in a field study using an experience sampling methodology.