Advertisement

Managers’ Restorative Versus Punitive Responses to Employee Wrongdoing: A Qualitative Investigation

  • 284 Accesses

Abstract

A growing body of literature has examined managers’ use of restorative practices in the workplace. However, little is currently known about why managers use restorative practices as opposed to alternative (e.g., punishment) responses. We employed a qualitative interview technique to develop an inductive model of managers’ restorative versus punitive response in the context of employee wrongdoing. The findings reveal a set of key motivating and moderating influences on the manager’s decision to respond to wrongdoing in a restorative versus punitive manner. The findings also suggest that managers’ personal needs and perceived duties in the aftermath of employee wrongdoing are generally more consistent with restorative responses than punishment responses, which helps explain managers’ use of restorative workplace practices.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.

Access options

Buy single article

Instant unlimited access to the full article PDF.

US$ 39.95

Price includes VAT for USA

Subscribe to journal

Immediate online access to all issues from 2019. Subscription will auto renew annually.

US$ 199

This is the net price. Taxes to be calculated in checkout.

Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Managers were asked to discuss two separate incidents in random order—one involving a punishment response and one involving a restorative response. A restorative response was described as “emphasizing repairing harm and restoring victims and third parties after being harmed by an offender, while also helping the offender by doing things like trying to reintegrate them back into the workplace.”

References

  1. Aquino, K., Lewis, M. U., & Bradfield, M. (1999). Justice constructs, negative affectivity, and employee deviance: A proposed model and empirical. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 20(7), 1073.

  2. Atwater, L. E., Waldman, D. A., Carey, J. A., & Cartier, P. (2001). Recipient and observer reactions to discipline: Are managers experiencing wishful thinking? Journal of Organizational Behavior, 22(3), 249–270.

  3. Ball, G. A., Treviño, L. K., & Sims, H. P., (1994). Just and unjust punishment: Influences on subordinate performance and citizenship. The Academy of Management Journal, 37(2), 299–322.

  4. Berg, B. L., & Lune, H. (2011). Qualitative research methods for the social sciences (8): London: Pearson.

  5. Bies, R. J. (2013). The delivery of bad news in organizations: A framework for analysis. Journal of Management, 39(1), 136–162.

  6. Bies, R. J., Barclay, L. J., Tripp, T. M., & Aquino, K. (2016). A systems perspective on forgiveness in organizations. Academy of Management Annals, 10, 245–318.

  7. Bies, R. J., Tripp, T., & Kramer, R. (1997). At the breaking point: Cognitive & social dynamics of revenge in organizations. In J. Greenberg & R. Giacalone (Eds.), Antisocial behavior in organizations Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications pp. 18–36.

  8. Bies, R. J., & Tripp, T. M. (1996). Beyond distrust. In R. Kramer & T. Tyler (Eds.), Trust in organizations: Frontiers of theory and research. London: Sage Publications.

  9. Birks, M., Chapman, Y., & Francis, K. (2008). Memoing in qualitative research: Probing data and processes. Journal of Research in Nursing, 13(1), 68–75.

  10. Bottom, W. P., Gibson, K., Daniels, S. E., & Murnighan, J. K. (2002). When talk is not cheap: Substantive penance and expressions of intent in rebuilding cooperation. Organization Science, 13(5), 497–513.

  11. Bowen, G. A. (2008). Naturalistic inquiry and the saturation concept: A research note. Qualitative Research, 8(1), 137–152.

  12. Bradfield, M., & Aquino, K. (1999). The effects of blame attributions and offender likableness on forgiveness and revenge in the workplace. Journal of Management, 25(5), 607–631.

  13. Braithwaite, J. (1999). Restorative justice: Assessing optimistic and pessimistic accounts. Crime and Justice, 25, 1–127.

  14. Braithwaite, J. (2002). Restorative justice and responsive regulation. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  15. Braithwaite, J., & Makkai, T. (1993). Can resident-centered inspection of nursing homes work with very sick residents? Health Policy, 24, 19–33.

  16. Butterfield, K. D., Treviño, L. K., & Ball, G. A. (1996). Punishment from the manager’s perspective: A grounded investigation and inductive model. Academy of Management Journal, 39(6), 1479–1512.

  17. Butterfield, K. D., Treviño, L. K., Wade, K. J., & Ball, G. A. (2005). Organizational punishment from the manager’s perspective: An exploratory study. Journal of Managerial Issues: 17, 363–382.

  18. Carlsmith, K. M., & Darley, J. M. (2008). Psychological aspects of retributive justice. Advances in Experimental Social Psychology, 40, 193–236.

  19. Charmaz, K. (2006). Constructing grounded theory: A practical guide through qualitative analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

  20. Christiansen, N. D., Rozek, R. F., & Burns, G. (2015). Effects of social desirability scores on hiring judgments. Journal of Personnel Psychology, 9, 267–307.

  21. Cohen-Charash, Y., & Mueller, J. S. (2007). Does perceived unfairness exacerbate or mitigate interpersonal counterproductive work behaviors related to envy? Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(3), 666–680.

  22. Cole, N. (2007). Consistency in employee discipline: An empirical exploration. Personnel Review, 37(1), 109–117.

  23. Colquitt, J. A., Conlon, D. E., Wesson, M. J., Porter, C. O., & Ng, K. Y. (2001). Justice at the millennium: a meta-analytic review of 25 years of organizational justice research. Journal of Applied Psychology, 86(3), 425.

  24. Crowley, M. (2012). Control and dignity in professional, manual and service-sector employment. Organization Studies, 33(10), 1383–1406.

  25. Daly, K., & Immarigeon, R. (1998). The past, present, and future of restorative justice: Some critical reflections. Contemporary Justice Review, 1, 21–45.

  26. Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “what” and” why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11(4), 227–268.

  27. Dillon, R. S. (2001). Self-forgiveness and self-respect. Ethics, 112(1), 53–83.

  28. Dirks, K. T., Lewicki, R. J., & Zaheer, A. (2009). Reparing relationships within and between organizations: Building a conceptual foundation. Academy of Management Review, 34(1), 68–84.

  29. Edmondson, A. (1999). Psychological safety and learning behavior in work teams. Administrative Science Quarterly, 44(2), 350–383.

  30. Fehr, R., & Gelfand, M. (2012). The forgiving organization: A multilevel model of forgiveness at work. Academy of Management Review, 37(4), 554–688.

  31. Fox, S., Spector, P. E., & Miles, D. (2001). Counterproductive work behavior (CWB) in response to job stressors and organizational justice: Some mediator and moderator tests for autonomy and emotions. Journal of Vocational Behavior, 59, 1–19.

  32. Franklin, A. L., & Pagan, J. F. (2006). Organization culture as an explanation for employee discipline practices. Review of Public Personnel Administration, 26(1), 52–73.

  33. Gillespie, N., & Dietz, G. (2009). Trust repair after an organization-level failure. Academy of Management Review, 34(1), 127–145.

  34. Gioia, D. A. (2003). Teaching Teachers to Teach Corporate Governance Differently. Journal of Management and Governance, 7(3), 255–262.

  35. Glaser, B. G., & Strauss, A. L. (1967). The discovery of grounded theory. Chicago, IL: Aldine.

  36. Goodstein, J., & Aquino, K. (2010). And restorative justice for all: Redemption, forgiveness, and reintegration in organizations. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 31(4), 624–628.

  37. Goodstein, J., Aquino, K., & Skarlicki, D. (2011). Opening a new conversation in organizational justice: A conceptual model of offender reintegration in organizations. Emerging perspectives in organizational justice and ethics. Research in Social Issues Management Book Series Charlotte: Information Age Publishing 75–104.

  38. Goodstein, J., & Butterfield, K. D. (2010). Extending the horizon of business ethics: Restorative justice and the aftermath of unethical behavior. Business Ethics Quarterly, 20(03), 453–480.

  39. Goodstein, J., & Butterfield, K. D. (2015). Restorative justice. In R. Cropanzano & M. Ambrose (Eds.), Oxford Handbook of Justice in Work Organizations. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  40. Goodstein, J., Butterfield, K. D., Pfarrer, M. D., & Wicks, A. C. (2014). Individual and organizational reintegration after ethical or legal transgressions: Challenges and opportunities. Business Ethics Quarterly, 24(3), 315–342.

  41. Goodstein, J., Butterfield, K. D., & Neale, N. R. (2015). Repairing interpersonal harm in the workplace: An exploratory study. Journal of Business Ethics, 138(1), 17–37.

  42. Gromet, D. M. (2012). Restoring the victim: Emotional reactions, justice beliefs, and support for reparation and punishment. Critical Criminology, 20(1), 9–23.

  43. Gromet, D. M., & Darley, J. M. (2006). Restoration and retribution: How including retributive components affects the acceptability of restorative justice procedures. Social Justice Research, 19(4), 395–432.

  44. Gromet, D. M., & Okimoto, T. G. (2014). Back into the fold: The influence of offender amends and victim forgiveness on peer reintegration. Business Ethics Quarterly, 24(3), 411–441.

  45. Gruys, M. L., & Sackett, P. R. (2003). Investigating the dimensionality of counterproductive work behavior. International Journal of Selection and Assessment, 11(1), 30–42.

  46. Ho, V. T. (2012). Interpersonal counterproductive work behaviors: Distinguishing between person-focused versus task-focused behaviors and their antecedents. Journal of Business and Psychology, 27(4), 467–482.

  47. Jones, C., & Saundry, R. (2012). The practice of discipline: evaluating the roles and relationship between managers and HR professionals. Human Resource Management Journal, 22(3), 252–266.

  48. Karp, D., & Conrad, S. (2005). Restorative justice and college student misconduct. Public Organization Review: A Global Journal, 5(4), 315–333.

  49. Kidder, D. L. (2007). Restorative justice: not “rights”, but the right way to heal relationships at work. International Journal of Conflict Management, 18(1), 4–22.

  50. Light, R. J. (1971). Measures of response agreement for qualitative data: Some generalizations and alternatives. Psychological Bulletin, 76(5), 365.

  51. Martin, J., Feldman, M. S., Hatch, M. J., & Sitkin, S. B. (1983). The uniqueness paradox in organizational stories. Administrative Science Quarterly: 18, 438–453.

  52. McClelland, D. C. (1985). Human Motivation. Glenview, IL: Scott.

  53. McNemar, Q. (1947). Note on the sampling error of the difference between correlated proportions or percentages. Psychometrika, 12(2), 153–157.

  54. Michel, S. (2001). Analyzing service failures and recoveries: A process approach. International Journal of Service Industry Management, 12(1), 20–33.

  55. Miles, M. B., & Huberman, A. M. (1994). Qualitative data analysis. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

  56. Morse, J. M., Barrett, M., Mayan, M., Olson, K., & Spiers, J. (2002). Verification strategies for establishing reliability and validity in qualitative research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 1(2), 13–22.

  57. Murray, H. A. (1938). Explorations in personality. New York: Oxford University Press.

  58. Okimoto, T. G., & Wenzel, M. (2014). Bridging diverging perspectives and repairing damaged relationships in the aftermath of workplace transgressions. Business Ethics Quarterly, 24(3), 443–473.

  59. Okimoto, T. G., Wenzel, M., & Feather, N. (2009). Beyond retribution: Conceptualizing restorative justice and exploring its determinants. Social Justice Research, 22(1), 156–180.

  60. Pearson, C. M., Andersson, L. M., & Porath, C. L. (2005). “Workplace incivility”. In S. Fox & P. E. Spector (Eds.), Counterproductive work behavior: Investigations of actors and targets (pp. 177–200). Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

  61. Pearson, C. M., & Porath, C. L. (2005). On the nature, consequences and remedies of workplace incivility: No time for “Nice”? Think again. The Academy of Management Executive (1993–2005), 19(1): 7–18.

  62. Pfarrer, M. D., Decelles, K. A., Smith, K. G., & Taylor, M. S. (2008). After the fall: Reintegrating the corrupt organization. Academy of Management Review, 33(3), 730–749.

  63. Podsakoff, P. M., Bommer, W. H., Podsakoff, N. P., & MacKenzie, S. B. (2006). Relationships between leader reward and punishment behavior and subordinate attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors: A meta-analytic review of existing and new research. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 99(2), 113–142.

  64. Qureshi, I., Kistruck, G. M., & Bhatt, B. (2016). The enabling and constraining effects of social ties in the process of institutional entrepreneurship. Organization Studies, 37(3), 425–447.

  65. Reb, J., Goldman, B. M., Kray, L. J., & Cropanzano, R. (2006). Different wrongs, different remedies? Reactions to organizational remedies after procedural and interactional injustice. Personnel Psychology, 59(1), 31–64.

  66. Ren, H., & Gray, B. (2009). Repairing relationship conflict: How violation types and culture influence the effectiveness of restoration rituals. Academy of Management Review, 34(1), 105–126.

  67. Robinson, S. L., & Bennett, R. J. (1995). A typology of deviant workplace behaviors: A multidimensional scaling study. The Academy of Management Journal, 38(2), 555–572.

  68. Roche, D. (2003). AAccountability in restorative justice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  69. Roche, D. (2006). Dimensions of restorative justice. Journal of Social Issues, 62(2), 217–238.

  70. Ryan, R. M. (1995). Psychological needs and the facilitation of integrative processes. Journal of Personality, 63(3), 397–427.

  71. Sanner, B., & Bunderson, J. S. (2015). When feeling safe isn’t enough: Contextualizing models of safety and learning in teams. Organizational Psychology Review, 9(3), 224–243.

  72. Schiff, M. (2007). Satisfying the needs and interests of stakeholders, Handbook of Restorative Justice 55, 228–246.

  73. Shnabel, N., & Nadler, A. (2008). A needs-based model of reconciliation: Satisfying the differential emotional needs of victim and perpetrator as a key to promoting reconciliation. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 94(1), 116.

  74. Shnabel, N., Nadler, A., Ullrich, J., Dovidio, J. F., & Carmi, D. (2009). Promoting reconciliation through the satisfaction of the emotional needs of victimized and perpetrating group members: The needs-based model of reconciliation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 35(8), 1021–1030.

  75. Sitkin, S. B., & Bies, R. J. (1993). Social accounts in conflict situations: Using explanations to manage conflict. Human Relations, 46(3), 349–370.

  76. Skarlicki, D. P., & Folger, R. (1997). Retaliation in the workplace: The roles of distributive, procedural, and interactional justice. Journal of Applied Psychology, 82(3), 434.

  77. Soliman, F., & Spooner, K. (2000). Strategies for implementing knowledge management: Role of human resources management. Journal of Knowledge Management, 4(4), 337–345.

  78. Spector, P. E., & Fox, S. (2005). A model of counterproductive work behavior. In S. Fox & P. E. Spector (Eds.), Counterproductive workplace behavior: Investigations of actors and targets (pp. 151–174). Washington, DC: APA.

  79. Strauss, A., & Corbin, J. (1998). Basics of qualitative research: Procedures and techniques for developing grounded theory. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications Inc.

  80. Tata, J. (2002). The influence of accounts on perceived social loafing in work teams. International Journal of Conflict Management, 13(3), 292–308.

  81. Treviño, L. K. (1992). The social effects of punishment in organizations: A justice perspective. The Academy of Management Review, 17(4), 647–676.

  82. Treviño, L. K., & Weaver, G. R. (2010). Advances in research on punishment in organizations: Descriptive and normative perspectives. In M. Schminke (Ed.), Managerial ethics: Managing the psychology of morality. New York: Routledge.

  83. Van Ness, D. (2002). The shape of things to come: a framework for thinking about a restorative justice system. In Restorative justice: Theoretical foundations: 1.

  84. Wachtel, T., & McCold, P. (2000). Restorative justice in everyday life, restorative justice in civil society: 117–125. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  85. Walker, M. U. (2006). Moral repair: Reconstructing moral relations after wrongdoing. New York: Cambridge University Press.

  86. Walkowski, V. S. (2008). An overview of the attorney-client privilege when the client is a corporation. In V. S. Walkowski (Ed.), The attorney-client privilege in civil litigation: Protecting and defending confidentiality (pp. 1–56). Chicago: American Bar Association.

  87. Wang, L., & Murnighan, J. K. (2017). The dynamics of punishment and trust. Journal of Applied Psychology, 102(10), 1385–1402.

  88. Warren, D. E., & Smith-Crowe, K. (2008). Deciding what’s right: The role of external sanctions and embarrassment in shaping moral judgments in the workplace. Research in Organizational Behavior, 28, 81–105.

  89. Wenzel, M., Okimoto, T. G., & Cameron, K. (2012). Do retributive and restorative justice processes address different symbolic concerns? Critical Criminology, 20(1), 25–44.

  90. Zapf, D., & Einarsen, S. (2005). Mobbing at work: Escalated conflicts in organizations. In S. Fox & P. Spector (Eds.), Counterproductive Work Behavior: Investigations of Actors and Targets (pp. 237–270). Washington D.C.: American Psychological Association.

  91. Zapf, D., & Gross, C. (2001). Conflict escalation and coping with workplace bullying: A replication and extension. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 10(4), 497–522.

  92. Zehr, H. (1990). Changing lenses: A new focus for criminal justice. Scottsdale: Herald Press.

Download references

Author information

Correspondence to Nathan Robert Neale.

Ethics declarations

Conflict of interest

All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Appendix

Appendix

Interview Protocol

Think back on the situation within the last year where one of your employees harmed or transgressed a colleague or another employee within the organization and you responded with punishment. Punishment is defined as “application of a negative consequence or withdrawal of a positive consequence” from an employee under your supervision. Do you feel comfortable with this definition and understand what I mean by punishment?Footnote 1

  1. 1.

    Background of the incident:

    1. A.

      What was the nature of the transgression? ______________________

    2. B.

      How long ago did this happen? ____________________________

    3. C.

      How long had you known the people involved? ________

    4. D.

      How long have you supervised or managed each of those involved? ________

  1. 2.

    Manager’s needs: Thinking about the same incident, let’s talk about what your needs were. If the following questions are not answered, ask-

    • What were your needs immediately following the transgression?

    • What were your needs as you responded to the transgression?

    • How did your needs change or evolve as this process unfolded?

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Neale, N.R., Butterfield, K.D., Goodstein, J. et al. Managers’ Restorative Versus Punitive Responses to Employee Wrongdoing: A Qualitative Investigation. J Bus Ethics 161, 603–625 (2020) doi:10.1007/s10551-018-3935-x

Download citation

Keywords

  • Justice
  • Manager
  • Needs
  • Punishment
  • Restorative