A relational identity threat response model: how the ups and downs of workplace relationships drive discretionary behavior
Gibson, Kerry Roberts
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The relational identity threat response model describes how workplace relationships experiencing relational identity threat predict discretionary workplace behavior (i.e. momentary organizational voice, momentary behavioral engagement, and momentary supervisor-directed deviance). More specifically, the model utilizes an experience sampling methodology to capture the ebb and flow or momentary changes within supervisor-subordinate relationships with a focus on potential negative shifts in a subordinate’s relational identity with his/her supervisor. By examining momentary behavior, meaning actions subordinates take within a short period of time such as the last few hours, I draw attention to the often overlooked effects of dynamic workplace relationships, arguing that the ebb and flow within supervisor-subordinate interactions play a critical role in subordinate choice as to the amount of momentary organizational voice, momentary behavioral engagement, and momentary supervisor-directed deviance to offer. That is, I utilize recent developments within social identity theory (Brewer & Gardner, 1996; Sluss & Ashforth, 2007) to examine how subordinates reconcile relational identity threat, or potential shifts in the nature of ‘who we are’ (Sluss & Ashforth, 2007). Further, the data support the argument that momentary relational voice, which is communication to the supervisor focused on improving the workplace relationship or relational functioning, partially mediates relational identity threat’s consequences for positive discretionary workplace behavior (i.e. momentary organizational voice, momentary behavioral engagement). Additionally, I draw attention to self-compassion (i.e. how a subordinate treats him or herself [Neff, 2003a]), which moderates subordinate responses to relational identity threat within a supervisor-subordinate relationship.