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A case for recognizing distinctions among constructs that capture interpersonal mistreatment in work organizations



Leading organizational behavior scholars have argued that construct proliferation threatens the interpretability of interpersonal mistreatment research and have argued that researchers should employ the same terminology to refer to constructs that have been studied under distinct labels (e.g., bullying, deviance, retaliation, abuse, undermining). We argue that most of the construct labels researchers regularly employ capture meaningful theoretical differences, although the corresponding measures often fail to capture the distinctive features of mistreatment constructs. We further argue that a more immediate threat to the interpretability of research in this area is that scholars have overlooked the distinctions among the individual forms of mistreatment that comprise extant operational definitions. We offer recommendations for addressing what we perceive to be the major limitations of current interpersonal mistreatment research. Copyright © 2010 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.