Discrete incivility events and team performance: A cognitive perspective on a pervasive human resource (hr) issue

Arieh Riskin, Peter Bamberger, Amir Erez, Aya Zeiger

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


Incivility is widespread in the workplace and has been shown to have significant affective and behavioral consequences. However, the authors still have a limited understanding as to whether, how and when discrete incivility events impact team performance. Adopting a resource depletion perspective and focusing on the cognitive implications of such events, the authors introduce a multi-level model linking the adverse effects of such events on team members’ working memory – the “workbench” of the cognitive system where most planning, analyses, and management of goals occur – to team effectiveness. The model which the authors develop proposes that that uncivil interpersonal behavior in general, and rudeness – a central manifestation of incivility – in particular, may place a significant drain on individuals’ working memory capacity, affecting team effectiveness via its effects on individual performance and coordination-related team emergent states and action-phase processes. In the context of this model, the authors offer an overarching framework for making sense of disparate findings regarding how, why and when incivility affects performance outcomes at multiple levels. More specifically, the authors use this framework to: (a) suggest how individual-level cognitive impairment and weakened coor-dinative team processes may mediate these incivility-based effects, and (b) explain how event, context, and individual difference factors moderators may attenuate or exacerbate these cognition-mediated effects.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationResearch in Personnel and Human Resources Management
PublisherEmerald Group Publishing Ltd.
Number of pages36
StatePublished - 2020

Publication series

NameResearch in Personnel and Human Resources Management
ISSN (Print)0742-7301


  • Cognition
  • Incivility
  • Resource depletion
  • Rudeness
  • Team emergent states
  • Team performance
  • Team processes
  • Teams
  • Working memory


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