The Hidden Costs of Negative Workplace Gossip: Its Effect on Targets’ Behaviors, the Mediating Role of Guanxi Closeness, and the Moderating Effect of Need for Affiliation

B. Cheng, Y. Peng*, A. Shaalan, M. Tourky

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

This research explores the harmful effects of negative workplace gossip (NWG) on targets and organizations, including its impacts on helping behavior and knowledge hiding. The mediating role of guanxi closeness and the moderating role of need for affiliation are also examined. The study, based on conservation of resources theory, collected data from 526 employees in the hospitality industry in China, using a three-wave survey design. Hierarchical multiple regression analysis was employed to test the hypotheses. The empirical results showed that NWG was a strong predictor of reduced helping behavior and increased knowledge hiding; and that guanxi closeness mediated both the negative relationship between NWG and helping behavior, and the positive relationship between NWG and knowledge hiding. Additionally, need for affiliation was shown to act as a moderator between NWG and guanxi closeness: high need for affiliation amplified the negative impact of NWG on guanxi closeness, and then further affected employees’ helping behavior and knowledge hiding. This study therefore offers an important new perspective for interpreting the detrimental effects of negative gossip in organizations, providing not just theoretical advances but practical ways in which managers can proactively reduce these impacts.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)287–302
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Volume182
Issue number1
Early online date6 Jan 2022
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023

Keywords

  • Negative workplace gossip
  • Guanxi closeness
  • Helping behavior
  • Knowledge hiding
  • Need for affiliation

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