All of the Above?: an Examination of Overlapping Organizational Climates

Abstract

We examined the largely unexplored issue of strong associations between multiple specific climates (e.g., for safety and for service). Given that workplaces are likely to have more than one specific climate present, it is important to understand how and why these perceptions overlap. Individual ratings (i.e., at the psychological climate level) for seven specific climates and a general positive climate were obtained from 353 MTurk Workers employed in various industries. We first observed strong correlations among a larger set of specific climates than typically studied: climates for collaboration, communication, fair treatment, fear, safety, service, and work-life balance were all strongly correlated. Second, we found that two methodological mechanisms—common method variance (CMV) due to (a) measurement occasion and (b) self-report—and a theoretical mechanism, general climate, each account for covariance among the specific climate measures. General positive climate had a primary (i.e., larger) impact on the relationships between specific climates, but CMV—especially due to measurement occasion—also accounted for significant and non-negligible covariance between climates. We discuss directions for continued research on and practice implementing specific climates in order to accurately model and modify perceptions of multiple climates.

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Acknowledgments

This research was funded from the generous support of Clemson University Creative Inquiry. We thank Melanie Bennett, Michelle Flynn, Erika Fosu, Joey Glass, Benjamin Hardy, Cameron Lemere, and Briana Smith for assistance with study design, data collection, and analysis.

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Correspondence to Alice M. Brawley Newlin.

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Appendices

Appendix 1

Revised Climate of Fear Scale (CFS-R)

  1. 1.

    Other employees aren’t totally truthful at work because they worry about what they have to say.

  2. 2.

    Employees can be totally honest with management on all work related issues. (R)

  3. 3.

    Management considers suggestions without criticism. (R)

  4. 4.

    We do not receive all the information we need to do our jobs properly.

  5. 5.

    Admitting mistakes is frowned upon at work.

  6. 6.

    Repercussions at work are unpredictable.

  7. 7.

    Management is easy to discuss sensitive topics with. (R)

  8. 8.

    When speaking up in this organization, you have to be able to prove all your remarks.

  9. 9.

    Punishment is only applied to those who have done something wrong. (R)

  10. 10.

    Co-workers are easy to discuss sensitive issues with. (R)

  11. 11.

    Management comes down hard on mistakes as an example to others.

Appendix 2

General Positive Climate Scale

My manager and coworkers…

  1. 1.

    React quickly when I report problems.

  2. 2.

    Insist on regularly checking my work.*

  3. 3.

    Provide all the equipment and information I need to do my job.*

  4. 4.

    Would consider my behavior when reviewing my performance or promoting me.

  5. 5.

    Invest a lot of time and money in training for me and other employees.

  6. 6.

    Provide me with a lot of information about issues on my job.

  7. 7.

    Make an effort to measure or track the quality of my work.

  8. 8.

    Recognize and/or rewards me for doing a good job.

  9. 9.

    Support me in doing my job to the best of my ability.

  10. 10.

    Communicate with me when I am not doing my job correctly or to the best of my ability.

  11. 11.

    Provide me with the tools, technology, or other resources I need to do my job well.

* denotes items that were dropped from the measure (see Method).

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Brawley Newlin, A.M., Pury, C.L.S. All of the Above?: an Examination of Overlapping Organizational Climates. J Bus Psychol 35, 539–555 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10869-019-09639-6

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Keywords

  • Organizational climate
  • Specific climates
  • General climate
  • Psychological climate
  • Common method variance
  • Measurement issues