Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Stacey L. Connaughton

Committee Member 1

Patrice Buzzanell

Committee Member 2

Seungyoon Lee

Committee Member 3

Christie Sennott


Workplace incivility is a pervasive problem in organizations worldwide. Given the current political and social climates in the United States, it is a relevant and timely topic that requires further understanding. The current study contributes to this growing body of empirical research by examining how individuals’ multiple identities (i.e., age, gender, national origin, race, sexual orientation) and organizational identification relate to their experiences with workplace incivility. Additionally, this project explores how targets’ experiences with workplace incivility relate to power and control. Through in-depth interviews with individuals who have experienced workplace incivility, the study makes several important contributions.

This study provides a discourse-based framework for understanding the relationship between (in)civility, the self, and organizational identification. The discourse-based framework is attentive to participant experiences as they relate to issues of power and control. First, participants’ examples of workplace incivility included destructive behaviors that extend Sypher’s (2004) scholarship, including blaming, shaming, silencing, ostracism, micro-aggressions, sexual harassment, and sexual assault. Extending previous scholarship in this way allows for a more thorough understanding of the phenomenon of workplace incivility. Second, this study found that individuals’ experiences directly relate to their perceptions of the self. Uncivil discourse was utilized throughout their experiences with destructive workplace behaviors, and in turn those uncivil discourses challenged and/or threatened participants’ sense of self. Specifically, participants expressed that their identities are constrained, challenged, and threatened when they are silenced through their experiences. Participants expressed that maintaining their sense of self was difficult because their experiences created feelings of blame, guilt, and shame. Because participants were often unable to freely express their identity in the workplace, they shared that they actively hide part(s) of their identity. Doing so took active effort for participants. Third, this study found that individuals’ experiences directly relate to their organizational identification. Data from these participants conveyed that the relationship between incivility and organizational identification varies among participants. For some participants, uncivil discourse caused lessened organizational identification. This study provides empirical evidence that in these cases, there is a relationship between workplace incivility, decreased organizational identification, intent to leave the organization, and actual turnover. In other cases, participants indicated that they remained identified with the organization. In these cases, there is a positive relational aspect (i.e., trust and/or social support) that mediates the way the participant has negative experiences and continues to identify with the organization. In these cases, a circle of trusted individuals with whom targets can relate is identified. Finally, this project sought to further understand the connections between destructive workplace behaviors and individual’s sense of self that are typically related to (a lack of) power and control. Participants of this study often discussed their experiences with workplace incivility, identity, and organizational identification in terms of power and control. Specifically, participants in this study perceived that perpetrators of workplace incivility enact destructive behaviors to gain or hold power. Implications for theory-building and organizational practices are discussed.