Workplace Envy: The Methodological Challenges of Capturing a Denied and Concealed Emotion

By Donna-Louise McGrath.

Published by The Social Sciences Collection

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

Envy is a universal human emotion which has increasing interdisciplinary significance in the social sciences. In the organisational setting, envy can be ubiquitous and has often been associated with employee deviance, counterproductive workplace behaviours and bullying. This harmful view of envy can be explained from a psychoanalytic perspective; characterised by feelings of ill will toward the envied person. However comparatively few measures have been developed to capture these feelings of envious hostility. This is most likely because envy is a disguised emotion; hence presenting the researcher with methodological challenges to directly capturing the construct. In fact very few people will admit to being envious of others. The aim of this paper is thus to assess the extent to which existing measures capture the psychoanalytic view of envy and to consider their use in organisational contexts - where envy may be hostile. In doing so, several issues are investigated, firstly in terms of capturing the affect of envious anger, and secondly, in terms of research sampling. The paper concludes with some suggested methodological directions for future research on workplace envy.

Keywords: Envy, Anger, Emotions, Response Bias, Research Methodology

International Journal of Interdisciplinary Social Sciences, Volume 6, Issue 1, pp.81-90. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 785.223KB).

Dr. Donna-Louise McGrath

The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia

Dr. Donna-Louise McGrath has a PhD in which she conducted research on workplace emotions, attitudes and behaviour. She has also researched motivation, goal setting and goal achievement. She has previously taught for fifteen years in both international schools where she was a sociology, social studies and study skills teacher and co-ordinator and in Australia where she developed a holistic training model. Dr. McGrath has published and presented at international and Australian conferences on topics such as teaching, education and training, workplace emotions, industrial relations and workplace behaviour. Dr. McGrath’s current research interests are the tall poppy syndrome, workplace rumours, gossip and envy. She also has an interest in giftedness and talent management in the organisational context.

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