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Advancing Research on Selective Incivility toward Devalued Groups in Organizations

Special issue call for papers from Equality, Diversity and Inclusion

Guest Editorial Team:

Dana Kabat-Farr, Dalhousie University, and Lilia Cortina, University of Michigan


Deadline: July 1, 2018

Recent news headlines and political discourse underscore the relevance and salience of incivility in our everyday lives and workplaces. Incivility seems to permeate our work lives, manifesting in experiences such as being ignored or disregarded, being excluded from professional opportunities, or having your judgement unfairly questioned over a matter for which you are responsible (Andersson & Pearson, 1999). Research over the past 20 or so years has started to document the prevalence, costs, and correlates of incivility, finding that targets suffer personally and professionally and that organizations face financial and productivity loses (for recent reviews see Cortina, Kabat-Farr, Magley & Nelson, 2017 and Schilpzand, De Pater, & Erez, 2016).

While we have made great strides in understanding general experiences of incivility, less attention has been paid to how these experiences affect those with stigmatized identities. In 2008, Cortina introduced the concept of selective incivility to describe how subtle, ambiguous acts of rudeness may function as a covert manifestation of bias against devalued, stigmatized, or marginalized people in organizations.  Such biases may be based on one, or multiple, identity groups such as gender, race, ethnicity, minority sexual orientation, minority religion identification, immigrant status, transgender identity, disability status, language, or accent.

Initial research in a test of this theory found disproportionate uncivil treatment may provide an explanatory mechanism for the lower rates of women and racial minorities found in the upper echelons of organizations (Cortina, Kabat-Farr, Leskinen, Huerta, & Magley, 2013). Additionally, negative interpersonal experiences, such as greater experiences of incivility for women may shape how they view the larger organizational climate, including perceptions of a sexist climate (Settles & O’Connor, 2014). However, not all research finds increased risk of incivility for stigmatized groups (see Welbourne, Gangadharan, & Sariol, 2015; Kern & Grandey, 2009), leading to important questions regarding contextual and individual moderating factors.

The purpose of this special issue is to foster constructive insights into the selective incivility phenomenon. We welcome papers of an empirical or theoretical nature that investigate questions such as (but certainly not limited to):

  • What are the ways in which selective incivility may act as vehicle to communicate larger organizational and social values and ethical norms?
  • What kinds of cultural considerations should be taken into account when conducting selective incivility research internationally? How do we meaningfully include cultural norms into our work?
  • How do intersections of multiple social identities affect risk of experiencing mistreatment? Do certain identities act as a mitigating factor?
  • What are group and organizational-level factors that might predict experiences of selective incivility?
  • What are individual differences that may explain how targets respond to selective incivility? Incivility, by definition, is ambiguous: Does labeling the experience as discriminatory matter for target outcomes?
  • What factors predict instigation of selective incivility?
  • How might organizations address the issue of interpersonal slights being experienced by some employees more than others?

Please upload your submissions to the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion ScholarOne Manuscripts website - select ‘Special Issue’ and submit to the issue listed with the title: Advancing Research on Selective Incivility. Paper submissions accepted March 1, 2018 – July 1, 2018.

If you have any questions, please contact the guest co-editor: Dana Kabat-Farr ([email protected]).

Papers must follow the journal submission guidelines:

Guest Editors

Dana Kabat-Farr is an Assistant Professor of Management at Dalhousie University.  Her research focuses on workplace social experiences – both negative (incivility, harassment) and positive (citizenship). She has examined (1) relationships between workgroup "tokenism" and gender harassment, (2) incivility as covert discrimination against women and people of colour, and (3) positive and negative experiences that influence employees' ability to thrive.

Lilia Cortina's is a Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies at the University of Michigan.  Her research centers around the victimization of individuals (especially women) in the social context of work. She focuses in particular on the process by which sexual harassment unfolds, investigating women’s experiences of gender disparagement, unwanted sexual overtures, and sexual coercion in organizations. L. Cortina also studies non-sexual abuses in the workplace, particularly incivility – i.e., low-level injustices that can accumulate over time to have a significant negative impact on victims.


Andersson, L. M., & Pearson, C. M. (1999). Tit for tat? The spiraling effect of incivility in the workplace. Academy of Management Review, 24(3), 452-471.

Cortina, L. M. (2008). Unseen injustice: Incivility as modern discrimination in organizations. Academy of Management Review, 33(1), 55-75.

Cortina, L. M., Kabat-Farr, D., Leskinen, E. A., Huerta, M., & Magley, V. J. (2013). Selective incivility as modern discrimination in organizations: Evidence and impact. Journal of Management, 39(6), 1579-1605.

Kern, J. H., & Grandey, A. A. (2009). Customer incivility as a social stressor: The role of race and racial identity for service employees. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 14(1), 46-57.

Schilpzand, P., De Pater, I. E., & Erez, A. (2016). Workplace incivility: A review of the literature and agenda for future research. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 37(S1), S57-S88.

Settles, I. H., & O’Connor, R. C. (2014). Incivility at academic conferences: Gender differences and the mediating role of climate. Sex Roles, 71(1), 71-82. doi: 10.1007/s11199-014-0355-y

Welbourne, J. L., Gangadharan, A., & Sariol, A. M. (2015). Ethnicity and cultural values as predictors of the occurrence and impact of experienced workplace incivility. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 20(2), 205-217.