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ADAPTATION AND VALIDATION OF THE WORKPLACE CIVILITY
SCALE FOR EUROPEAN PORTUGUESE SAMPLES
Tito Laneiro
1
, Luisa Ribeiro
1
, Martina Nitzsche
1
, Tânia Ferraro
1
, Genta Kulari
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DOI: https://doi.org/10.26619/2183-4806.XX.1.3
Submitted on 20/01/2023 Submetido a 20/01/2023
Accepted on 22/07/2023 Aceite a 22/07/2023
Abstract
This study presents the validation of the Workplace Civility Scale (WCS; Osatuke, Moore,
Ward, Dyrenforth, & Belton, 2009) for European Portuguese samples. It was applied to a sample
of 1375 Portuguese workers. The current study gives empirical support to the research of work-
place civility. The 8-item pool was proposed to measure the workplace civility, the concept and
practice of courtesy, respect and consideration expressed between people at work (coworkers
and supervisors; Osatuke et al., 2009). A Confirmatory Factor Analysis was performed to evalu-
ate the factor structure and model fit, in terms of construct validity. WCS presents good reliabil-
ity and convergent validity and can contribute to enhance empirical research of civil behaviour
at work. Finally, implications of workplace civility are discussed.
Keywords: Workplace civility; Measurement validation; Confirmatory factor analysis; Portuguese
workers; psychometrics; burnout; work engagement; community.
The concept of civility can be applied to various fields of research such as in History or Pol-
itics, Sociology or Behavioural Sciences (Ferriss, 2002). The present study focuses on its applica-
tion to professional environments. Workplace civility (WC) can be defined as a set of behaviours
characterized by: courtesy, politeness, respectful communication, consideration, compassion,
kindness and care expressed between coworkers (Clark & Carnosso, 2008; Osatuke et al., 2009;
Porath, 2011). Civility is associated with appreciation, recognition and being valued (Porath,
2011). Recently, Porath (2018) stated that civil behaviour at work is related to how well employees
1 Centro de Investigação em Psicologia, Universidade Autónoma de Lisboa, Portugal.
Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Luisa Ribeiro. Email: mribeiro@autonoma.pt
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treat each other. According to Osatuke et al. (2009), the concept presents four main characteris-
tics: respect, acceptance, cooperation and fair conflict resolution.
A specific behavior might be considered acceptable in one context, and disrespectful in
another, so there is little value in discriminating some behaviours when considering different
contexts or cultures. It is preferable to assess the individuals perception of civility, since it is
their perception which will shape their feelings and the consequent response to their environ-
ment.
Workers tend to follow cultural rules, which shape the attitude at work and what is con-
sidered appropriate or otherwise unfair. Hosftede (2011) defines power distance as the extent
to which inequality is accepted and even expected. Portugal is a high power distance country,
which extends to the inequality of treatment between people with different hierarchical levels,
and autocracy. It follows that it is tolerated that superiors show a lower level of respect towards
their subordinates, when compared to the level they expect. Despite a traditional wider accept-
ance of these sort of inequalities, disrespectful or minimizing behaviors affect workers’ produc-
tivity (Day & Leiter, 2014) and well-being (Luparell, 2004, 2011), and the negative effect might be
amplified with culturally diverse workforces, as is increasingly the case in Portugal (Oliveira,
2023).
At work, individuals who show civil behaviour tend to be seen as potential leaders and their
advice is well received by colleagues (Porath & Gerbasi, 2015; Porath, Gerbasi, & Schorch, 2015b).
On an individual level, a civil employee tends to be viewed as warm and competent, being more
accessible, inspiring, and most likely to be recommended (e.g. for a promotion or a new job; Porath
et al., 2015a, 2015b). Civility uplifts people and promotes positive feelings at work and promoted
or recommended for a new post (Porath & Gerbasi, 2015; Porath, Gerbasi, & Schorch, 2015) for
the teamwork (Porath, Gerbasi, & Schorch, 2015), as well as job satisfaction (Leiter, Laschinger,
Day, & Oore, 2011). At the organizational level, WC interventions can improve organizational
commitment and decrease turnover intention (Osatuke et al., 2009). Culture is a central part of
civility (Clark & Carnosso, 2008), because it shapes our way of perceiving the world and how we
interact with others. Cultural awareness is an important issue in workplace relationships and
may be relevant to the promotion of workplace civility. Additionally, power differences within
organizations, be they real or perceived, as well as the way of dealing with power, can contribute
to abuse and exploitation of people (e.g. uncivil behaviour). Differences can be used to disqualify
others or, when valued and respected, used to build a work environment based on human dignity
and civility (Clark & Carnosso, 2008).
Given the positive impacts of workplace civility (both at an individual and organizational
level), the need to develop actions that promote civility demands an adequate instrument to
measure it. One such measure has become part of a comprehensive survey applied at the Veter-
ans Health Administration (VHA). This measure, comprising 8 items, is presented in Osatuke et
al. (2009) in Appendix B as Veterans Health Administration Civility Scale (VHA-CS), the psycho-
metric properties of which are referred to in Meterko, Osatuke, Mohr, Warren, and Dyrenforth
(2007, 2008).
The same instrument (part of the VHA survey) was subsequently used to measure civility
pre and post intervention (Osatuke et al., 2009; Osatuke, et al., 2014) and also used under the
name CREW (Civility, Respect and Engagement in the Workforce) Civility Scale (as mentioned in
Leiter, et al., 2012; Leiter et al., 2011; Leiter et al., 2010; Nicholson et al., 2014). These interventions
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Adaptation and Validation of the Workplace Civility Scale for European Portuguese samples
targeted professionals with various backgrounds, such as administrative supervisors, clerks, and
secretaries (Osatuke et al., 2009). Due to the possibility of its application to different professional
profiles, we suggest a broader name, Workplace Civility Scale (WCS). The WCS focuses entirely
on workplace civility, differently from other instruments that also include other constructs (Clark
et al., 2013; Walsh et al., 2012), as in the case of the Organizational Civility Scale (OCS; Clark et al.,
2013), which includes organizational climate, civility, satisfaction stress and coping.
The current study supports the adaptation and validation of the Workplace Civility Scale
(WCS; Osatuke et al., 2009) for European Portuguese samples. Due to the importance of culture
on what is considered uncivil, rude or acceptable, and the nuances of the meaning of words and
phrasal constructions, there is a need for distinct instruments for different Portuguese speaking
countries, such as Brazil. Said context there is already a translated and adapted instrument (de
Andrade et al, 2020). The current study aims to present one for Portugal. In order to scientifically
study these effects in a Portuguese speaking community, a sound measure is needed, which is
the goal of our work. The presented instrument assesses civility from a perception poit of view,
therefore no specific behaviors are listed. This way, our measure accounts for the cultural and
social variability of what is considered civil or uncivil. The discussion presents possible applica-
tions of the validated instrument and the potential contributions to human resources manage-
ment, in an increasingly multicultural workplace (Oliveira, 2023). Practical implications and new
directions for future research are also discussed.
Methods
Participants
A total of 1375 Portuguese workers from three different professional groups, participated in
this research. Sample 1 (n = 695) was composed of healthcare professionals from two different
hospitals in Lisbon, Portugal: Hospital A and Hospital B. Sample 2 (n = 241) was comprised by
police officers, also working in Lisbon. Catering and hospitality professionals (tourism) made up
Sample 3 (n = 439) are shown in Table 1.
Procedure
We obtained written authorization from the original WCS authors (Osatuke et al., 2009), to
translate, adapt and validate the original English version to the European Portuguese profes-
sional context. The translation followed the guidelines for cultural adaptation, forward-trans-
lation and of research instruments by Brislin (1970), ITC (2017) and Wild et al. (2005). Two Por-
tuguese psychologists fluent in English performed the forward-translation independently. The
comparison between translations, and the compilation of the final version in Portuguese, was
done by a panel of judges composed of three organizational psychologists (none of whom were
involved in the translation process). One of the latter is Safety and Health manager in a data ser-
vice organization. The back-translation of the Portuguese version was carried out by two bilin-
gual psychologists. Subsequently, the panel of judges made a comparison between the transla-
tions and the original version of the scale, and determined the content of the final version of the
WCS in Portuguese.
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TABLE1
Sociodemographic Information (N = 1375)
Characteristics
n %
Gender
Men 518 37.7
Women 821 59.7
Missing values 36 2.6
Age (years)
≤ 24 159 11.6
25 – 34 438 31.9
35 – 44 224 16.3
35 – 44 224 16.3
45 – 54 190 13.8
55 – 64 47 3.4
Missing values 317 23.0
Educational Level
PhD 4 0.3
Master’s degree 79 5.7
College degree 654 47.6
Bachelor or equivalent 15 1.1
[General nursing course] 9 0.7
Up to 12 years / [Vocational course] 334 24.3
Up to 9 years 241 17.5
Missing values 39 2.8
The adequacy of the Portuguese version of the WCS (face validity study) was evaluated in
a pilot study with among 28 workers with similar characteristics to the validation sample. No
issues were raised by the participants in the pilot study, so no items were changed. The final
Portuguese version maintained the original 8 items (Osatuke et al., 2009), as well as instructions,
format of items and response options (see Appendix A).
Following the approval of the top managers and the cooperation of intermediate and direct
supervisors, workers (except trainees/interns) were asked to answer the questionnaire at their
workplace. Participation was voluntary. The data from healthcare professionals was gathered at
their work environment, with prior approval form the Hospital’s Ethics Committee. The other
two groups of professionals were contacted individually outside their work premises. All partic-
ipants were given a Informed Consent prior to data collection, and thus informed of the purpose
of the study, and anonymity and confidentiality of data was assured, consequently following
ethical norms referred by the American Psychological Association (APA, 2016) and stated in the
Code of Ethics of the Portuguese Psychologists Association (Ordem dos Psicólogos Portugueses,
OPP, 2011). The participants received no incentive to their participation.
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Data collection
The data were collected using a convenience sampling strategy. Participants filled in paper
versions of instruments, described below. The questionnaires were distributed and immediately
collected by the research team or via a ballot box.
Measures
Workplace Civility Scale (WCS)
To evaluate workplace civility, we used the WCS (Osatuke et al., 2009), an instrument devel-
oped to measure the workers’ perceptions of WC within their work groups and in their organi-
zations. The WCS is an 8-item unidimensional scale (e.g., “A spirit of cooperation and teamwork
exists in my work group; “Disputes or conflicts are resolved fairly in my work group; “This
organization does not tolerate discrimination”). Response options are answered on a 5-point Lik-
ert scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). In the current study, the Overall
Civility Cronbach’s alpha of .88, and in the original study .93 (Osatuke et al., 2009).
Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI)
The Maslach Burnout Inventory – General Survey (MBI-GS; Schaufeli, Leiter, Maslach, & Jack-
son, 1996) is a measurement of burnout, i.e., a syndrome associated with emotional exhaustion
and cynicism that can manifest among professionals who work as service providers (Maslach &
Jackson, 1981). The MBI-GS is a 16-item scale with three subscales: exhaustion, cynicism, and pro-
fessional inefficacy. Responses to the MBI-GS are given on a 7-point Likert scale, from 0 (never) to
6 (daily). A sample item is ‘I feel emotionally drained from my work. The Overall Burnout Cron-
bach’s alpha in the current study was .85. Cronbachs alpha values ranged from .90 (Exhaustion),
.81 (Cynicism) and .78 (Professional Inefficacy), (Tecedeiro, 2003).
Utrecht Work Engagement Scale (UWES)
The Utrecht Work Engagement Scale was created to measure work engagement (Schaufeli &
Bakker, 2003; Schaufeli, Bakker, & Salanova, 2006; Schaufeli, Salanova, González-Romá, & Bakker,
2002). Engagement is the enthusiasm and vigour people feel with their own work (Schaufeli &
Bakker, 2003). The UWES-9 comprises three subscales: vigour, dedication and absorption, com-
prising a total of 9 items (Schaufeli et al., 2006). Response options are given on a 7-point Likert
scale ranging from 0 = (Never) to 6 = (Always/Every day). A sample item is ‘At my work, I feel
bursting with energy’. In the current study, the Overall Work Engagement Cronbach alpha was
.92. The three subscales’ Cronbach alpha coefficients were: .87 (vigour), .88 (dedication) and .74
(absorption).
Community
The Areas of Worklife Scale (AWS) is a 28-item instrument that measures six areas/subscales
of worklife associated to burnout and job stress (workload, control, reward, community, fair-
ness, and values, Leiter & Maslach, 1999, 2004). In the current study, only the 5-item Commu-
nity subscale was used. The community concept represents the social interaction quality at work
and includes closeness, mutual support, the capacity to work as a team (social support) and the
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capacity to manage interpersonal conflict, a community-orientation at work (Leiter & Maslach,
2004). We chose this subscale because of the perceiving a sense of community to WC, allowing
for short protocol. Response options are given on a 5-point Likert scale, from 1 (strongly disa-
gree) to 5 (strongly agree). One sample item is “People trust one another to fulfil their roles. In the
present study, the Alpha coefficient of Community was .82.
Data analysis
To assess the psychometric sensitivity of the items, summary measures (mean, median,
mode, and standard deviation) and form (skewness and kurtosis) were used. In accordance with
Kline (2011), distributional properties and psychometric sensitivity were considered adequate if
their absolute value was lower than 3 for skewness and 7 for kurtosis, thus confirming normal
distribution.
We performed a CONFIRMATORY FACTOR ANALYSIS (CFA) with the total sample of N =
1375. Meyers, Gamst, and Guarino (2006) recommend performing a factorial analysis of an inven-
tory of eight items with no fewer than 80 participants. In order to perform statistical analysis,
we used the software IBM SPSS Statistics (v.23.0, SPSS, IBM Company) and AMOS 24.0 (Arbuckle,
2016).
Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA)
Based on prior research (Nitzsche, 2015; Osatuke et al., 2009), and the theoretical framework
plausibility, we performed the CFA of the 8 items expecting to find a unidimensional measure.
Evaluation of the model began with the assessment of the chi-square value of the sample and
its significance. However, because of the sensitivity of the chi-square test to large sample sizes
(Kline 2011), for models with N 300, it is expected that chi-square will almost always be sta-
tistically significant. The model was further examined using several fit indices: Comparative Fit
Index (CFI), and Root Mean Square Error of Approximation (RMSEA). Usually, an excellent fit is
indicated when CFI values are close to .95 (Hu & Bentler, 1999; Kline, 2011; Maroco, 2014; Meyers
et al., 2006). Values higher than .90 indicate a reasonable fit (Hair et al., 2006; Mueller & Hancock,
2010; Lomax, 2010).
The most acceptable models have RMSEA values up to .10 (Kline, 2011). Therefore, it was
important to examine the effect of our large sample size over the found indices. Currently, some
studies recommend evaluating the adequacy of model fit by simultaneously considering: the sta-
tistical standards, psychometric reflections and internal coherence with theory plausibility and
practical implications (Hair et al., 2006; McNeish et al., 2017). There seems to be no absolute rules
or standards to determine a bad and good fitting model (Hair et al., 2006; McNeish et al., 2017).
Results
Our results are presented in two parts. First, we present a CFA using Structural Equation
Modelling (SEM) for construct validity. Then we present the zero-order correlations between
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workplace civility and burnout and work engagement and community to test the concurrent
validity of the WCS.
Confirmatory Factor Analysis
The CFA confirmed the unidimensionality of the instrument with 8-item, with no saturated
item outside the expected dimension. The tested measurement model presents a single factor
model (Credé & Harms, 2015; Edwards, 2001; Edwards & Bagozzi, 2000; Johnson et al., 2012; Mac-
Kenzie et al., 2005) with eight items (see Figure 1).
FIGURE1
Final Structural Model Tested (n = 1375)
Considering the outputs and following the modifications suggested by the indices, the fol-
lowing correlations between item errors were inserted in the 8-item WCS measurement model:
between item 6This organization does not tolerate discrimination and item 7 “Differences
among individuals are respected and valued in my work group; between item 6 and item 8
“Managers/Supervisors/Team leaders work well with employees of different backgrounds in my
work group; and between item 7 and item 8. These three items address issues of workplace
diversity, but despite similarities, each item addresses a different facet of acceptance of differ-
ences: item 6 focus on the organizational level; item 7 on the perception of the worker within the
work group; and item 8 on the behavior of the leader.
Items 4 (“The people I work with take a personal interest in me,”) and 5 (“The people I work
with can be relied on when I need help,”) are both about coworkers’ support relationships. The
former item relates to the care and attention that colleagues can show towards the respondent
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and the latter item refers to the level of trust between them. Although these two perceptions can
be seen as related, they also represent different nuances of workplace civility.
Table 2 shows the initial goodness-of-fit indices (Model 1, without adjustments) and after
model amendments (Model 2). We concluded this analysis with the WCS presenting an accept-
able unidimensional representation through eight items as sources of workplace civility.
TABLE2
Goodness-of-fit Indices of Tested Structural Models
Model
χ2(df) χ2/df
CFI
RMSEA
(IC 90%)
Model 1
(without ajusments)
427.968**
(20)
21.398 .92 .122
[.112, .132]
Model 2
(with adjustments)
104.878**
(16)
6.555 .98 .064
[.052, .075]
Notes. χ2 (chi-square); df (degrees of freedom); CFI (Comparative Fit Index); RMSEA (Root Mean Square Error of Approximation), ** ρ = .000.
Test of convergent validity
All the participants in our study filled the civility questionnaire. However, only sample 1,
composed of 695 participants, filled burnout and work engagement instruments, whereas the
rest of the sample (680 participants) filled only the civility instrument. After verifying the aver-
age of both samples for the instrument of civility, it was found that they are similar, which sug-
gests that for the purpose of a confirmatory factor analysis, they can be analyzed as one sample.
Therefore, for the convergent validity test, only the participants that filled all questionnaires
were considered.
For the examination of convergent validity our sample was thus reduced to n = 695, the num-
ber of participants who completed all measures (civility, burnout, work engagement and com-
munity). Convergent validity was studied through correlations between WC and burnout, work
engagement and community (Hair et al., 2006; Urbina, 2014). Although the concept of burnout
seems further removed from civility, we hypothesised a negative association between these var-
iables, i.e., in professional settings where burnout prevails, it seems likely to expect lower levels
of civility. Indeed, some studies have suggested that promoting civility will reduce burnout (Fida
et al., 2018; Laschinger et al., 2009; Leiter et al., 2015; Leiter et al., 2011; Nicholson et al., 2014).
Additionally, workplaces providing social support between coworkers and supervisors show
higher levels of work engagement (Bakker at al., 2011). WC (a concept that includes cooperation
and personal interest in others) may favour healthy work environments, conducive to dedication
and engagement at work (Christian et al., 2011; Leiter et al., 2012; Osatuke et al., 2009).
Finally, WC, through social support might lead to a community feeling. We therefore tested
the association between WC and community (Hepburn & Enns, 2013; Leiter & Maslach, 2004;
Schnorpfeil et al., 2002; Truchot & Deregard, 2001; Van Yperen et al., 1992).
Table 3 shows means and standard deviations of the scores of WCS, as well as the correlations
between Civility with Burnout (overall and each of its three dimensions), with work engagement
(overall and its three dimensions) and with Community.
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All correlations were, significant in the expected direction and showed the expected direc-
tion – a negative association between civility and burnout (-.43), as well as between civility and
each of burnout’s dimensions (between -.11 and -.35), and positive correlations between WC and
engagement and community, ranging from .25 to .74.
The reported value of the χ2/df statistic is slightly above the accepted recommended thresh-
old, although there is no consensus on what the limit should be (Hooper et al., 2008). Notwith-
standing, the modified version of our model shows a great improvement in fit statistics. This
statistic would very likely improve with the combination of the items with correlating errors into
a single item (e.g. Brown, 2015). However, for the reasons already explained (comparability and
few robust studies with Portuguese samples), the authors opted to keep all items intact. A version
with reduced items, as indicated by the correlated errors, might have shown better fit indices,
but the instrument would be less accurate for further scientific comparison.
TABLE3
Descriptive statistics and Correlations between Overall Civility of the Workplace Civility Scale (WCS)
andBurnout, Work Engagement and Community using Pearson’s correlation coefficient in the Portuguese
sample (n = 695)
Measure Overall Civility (WCS)
M SD
Burnout (MBI) - - -
Overall -.43** 33.93 14.88
Exhaustion -.35** 16.37 7.69
Cynicism -.41** 10.26 7.32
Professional Inecacy -.11** 7.41 5.41
Work Engagement (UWES) - - -
Overall .40** 37.24 10.71
Vigour .38** 12.49 3.96
Dedication .43** 12.95 4.05
Absorption .25** 11.77 3.98
Community .74** 17.52 3.57
Overall Civility (WCS) - 27.82 3.57
Notes. ** Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (1 tailed); * Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (1 tailed); Overall Civility (WCS) α = .88.
Discussion
Portugal is, as Hofstede (2011) mentions, is a high power distance country, where the major-
ity of subordinates accept incivility behaviors. Thus the presence of an instrument that measures
civility can portray the reality of the nefarious impact of such behaviors in the workplace. Fur-
thermore, this instrument can help human resources to assess civility and evaluate the efficacy
of civility intervention programs.
Considering this is a relatively new concept in Portugal, but which the western world has
embraced in their literature and in the workplace. It is thus important to add to the framework
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by emphasizing this concept in the workplace in Portuguese context. In recent years, Portugal
has received an increasingly number of foreign workers, including highly qualified professionals
(Oliveira, 2023). Cultural differences render civility in the workplace a highly relevant concept,
as well as addressing it.
The results support our main objective, to adapt and validate the WCS for Portuguese sam-
ples. The results of the convergent validity study also enhance the knowledge about the nomo-
logical network (Cronbach & Meehl, 1955) of WC. The findings suggest that WC can be measured
through the presented 8-item instrument.
In order to improve the 8-item version of the WCS, four correlations between item errors
were added, thus creating a modified model. Inspection of model-data fit confirmed the orig-
inal one-factor solution proposed by the original authors. With our sample, the WCS showed
good psychometric proprieties. Internal consistency for the WCS, measured through Cronbachs
alpha, was very good (Kline, 2011). The correlations with burnout, work engagement and com-
munity measurements were significant and coherent, supporting the convergent validity of the
WCS.
Despite the possibility to combine the items with correlating errors into a single item, (e.g.
Brown, 2015) the authors decided to keep the original structure. This will allow research works
to be more accurately compared, until more information is gathered from different Portuguese
samples, since agglutination of items inevitably leads to a different total score.
The findings also show a significant negative association between burnout and WC. Simi-
larly, Laschinger et al. (2009) found that strategic management policies which foster empower-
ment of nurses also lower workplace incivility and burnout. Nicholson et al. (2014) showed that
nurses’ WC can diminish their level of cynicism. In turn, the decrease in cynicism contributes to
the reduction of burnout. This led the authors to recommend interventions to promote civility at
work as a way to tackle burnout.
The correlation between civility and burnout (overall measures) and cynicism present sim-
ilar values (-.43 and -.41, respectively). This seems to indicate that cynicism might be burnout’s
dimension most affected by the presence of civility, which is in line with Nicholson et al.s (2014)
findings. Correlation with the exhaustion dimension is slightly lower (-.35) and with professional
inefficacy is clearly lower (-.11). This latter dimension might be a more internal variable, less
related to the professional environment, which might explain the difference.
Laschinger (2010) stated that positive working relationships among professionals are essential
to maintain nurses’ satisfaction and engagement and to ensure high quality of care for patients
and their families. Leiter et al. (2011) presented the impact of civility interventions on social rela-
tionships at work. They found that social support and empowerment at work can improve psy-
chological safety and broaden employees’ perspectives to solve challenges, as well as to “learn
to produce more positive social behavior and be motivated to act accordingly at work” (Leiter, et
al., 2011, p. 1270). On the contrary, distress can narrow employees’ perspectives, reducing their
potential for creative problem-solving when faced with challenges (Leiter et al., 2011), potentially
leading to the development of burnout. “The improvements in the positive behaviors of civility
and respect demonstrate that people can learn to produce more positive social behavior and be
motivated to act accordingly at work” (Leiter, et al., 2011, p. 1270).
Work engagement had a positive and significant association with WC (.40). Leiter et al. (2012)
found that relationships of positive social support with coworkers and supervisor are related to
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greater work engagement (see also Bakker et al., 2011). Yanchus, Fishman, Teclaw, and Osatuke
(2013) found that peer support (referred in two items of WCS) is strongly related to the promotion
of engagement at work. Osatuke et al. (2009, 2014) reported the successful CREW interventions,
which were based on the promotion of civility to positively affect the feeling of respect and
improve employee engagement. Our results are in line with these previous studies. The correla-
tions between WC and work engagement’s dimensions show similar values for vigour (.38) and
dedication (.43), but a lower value for absorption (.25). Since absorption is the ability to immerse
in the task at hand, it is more dependent on the task itself, which might explain the lower value.
Finally, Community had not only a positive and significant association with WC but was
also the correlation that presented the largest magnitude. This suggests that the concept of Com-
munity (as social support or communal orientation) is conceptually is conceptually close to the
workplace civility in our samples. Those participants who perceive a healthy environment of
civility in the workplace also seem to feel they have social support and a sense of belonging to a
workplace that conveys a sense of community (Leiter et al., 2011).
One important idea reported by the tested association regarding convergent validity is that
the quality of interpersonal relationships in the workplace may act as a inhibitor (if positive/
good) or promoter (if negative/bad) of burnout. They can also promote (if relationships are pos-
itive) or lower work engagement (if bad). Finally, the quality of civility-oriented relationships is
positively associated with the sense of community when they are healthy and positive and/or
negatively related to the sense of community when unpleasant interpersonal relationships are
present.
There is ample evidence of the correlation between civility and burnout and work engage-
ment. The construct of community is indeed closer to civility. Our results show that WCS behaves
accordingly, showing higher convergence with Community and intermediate with burnout and
work engagement.
Another relevant facet of our work was the heterogeneous samples. Considering healthcare
professionals, particularly nurses, Clark and Kenski (2017) highlighted the importance for mod-
ern clinical practice of good working conditions in healthcare, and positive working relation-
ships for ethical, safe, respectful and civil workplaces for both professionals and patients. Bel-
ton and Dyrenforth (2007) emphasized that WC influences business outcomes in a positive way,
improving job satisfaction and attendance. Maslach and Leiter (2017) emphasized the importance
of improving civility to reduce burnout, especially considering quality of social relationships
in healthcare systems and even previously in a professional career in medical education. The
improvement of positive social climates of workgroups can promote positive social behaviours.
They concluded that well-designed organizational interventions could deal with the burnout in
healthcare systems and required the involvement of individual professionals, workgroups and
organizational/ management leaders. Having in particular consideration the sense of commu-
nity, they proposed that the promotion of civility may be key in creating a real transformation of
the workplace.
Despite its relevance, as far as we know, there is still a lack of studies on the promotion of
civility at work for police professionals, represented in our sample. According to Borrello (2012),
a lieutenant serving in San Gabriel Police Department, California, “civility is right behaviour
that serves as an ethical sentry encouraging the prevention of and guarding against miscon-
duct” (2012, p. 1). He believes in the potential of decorum and power that small, collective, and
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everyday applications of civil behaviour can have in promoting real positive change. He consid-
ers that civility can promote positive changes and mitigate adverse occurrences.
As was the case with empirical studies with samples of police professionals, we also found
a gap in studies that focus on civility in the area of catering and hospitality. With a sample of
tourism professionals, Nitzsche (2015) refers the importance of considering the quality of inter-
personal relationships at work and workplace civility for the study of job satisfaction and profes-
sional well-being in catering and hospitality industries. Holm, Torkelson and Bäckström (2015),
with a sample of 2871 workers from hotels and restaurants in Sweden, demonstrated that incivil-
ity from supervisors was strongly and negatively correlated with the perception of supervisors
social support, and incivility from peers was moderately and negatively associated with per-
ceived social support from colleagues.
The concept of civility is associated with improved relationships and social support. In three
professional areas of our samples that are so socially relevant and also so diverse: health care
systems, safety systems and even tourism and hospitality, which have as essential part of their
functions working for and with people.
Limitations
The current research has some limitations. First, despite an adequate number of participants
for validation studies, data were gathered by convenience. Second, as with any self-reported
questionnaires and cross-sectional data collection, there is the risk of response bias. Research
using a longitudinal design might provide more in-depth knowledge on the stability or variations
of WC over the course of time. Qualitative research applying different methods, such as inter-
views or focus groups, could be conducted, incorporating new variables that would allow for the
discriminant validity of the WCS to be tested.
Having different professional groups in our sample, it would be interesting to explore the
factor structure to probe for the emergence of a culture-specific factor structure or to test the
invariance of the factor structure in the distinct professional groups. However, the three samples
had too dissimilar dimensions rendering this option unsuitable.
Finally, for future research, a new data collection could be made with new variables that
allow the test of discriminant validity.
Despite these limitations, the current study has several strengths, such as the heterogeneous
groups that constitute our sample, comprising a diversity of professions and work environments,
not limiting the results to a specific profession or organizational setting.
Future research
The test of convergent validity between WC and three different concepts enhances knowl-
edge about WC’ conceptual nomological network. Therefore, studies that focus on the relation-
ship between WC and relevant concepts in the organizational field, such as performance, job
satisfaction and well-being at work can further enrich this nomological network, increasing the
number of potential applications.
Special attention still needs to be given to the associations between toxic leadership (Web-
ster et al., 2016) and civility/incivility at work, considering that abusive supervision often begins
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to manifest itself through uncivil behaviour. Abusive supervision is determinant for employees
motivation and organizational outcomes (Ronan & Donia, 2020). Other advances in research and
practical applications can be made by testing the association between WC and understudied
issues, such as social burden (Yang et al., 2016). The research of individual characteristics and
the WC (such as personality characteristics or demographic characteristics such as age, tenure or
educational level) can also generate relevant information about WC nomological network.
Future studies with other samples with participants who are Portuguese-speakers from
other nations (such as Angola, Brazil, Cape Verde, etc.) can contribute to evaluate the influence
of national cultures on WC.
Conclusion
Considering the associations between the theoretical framework, psychometric analysis,
statistical data analysis, technical developments and practical implications for organizational
settings, WCS can be a relevant source of debate and advances in knowledge to increase perfor-
mance and promote health and wellbeing at work. Some practical consequences of the study of
this concept can be found in interventions to promote civility (e.g. CREW, in Osatuke et al., 2009,
2014).
Findings from the study of WC can have many practical implications for human resources
development and management in organizational settings. The increasing expansion of busi-
nesses through internationalization and globalization tends to increase diversity in the work-
place, highlighting a greater need for respect and politeness in interactions. The positive results
of promoting civility in the workplace are becoming increasingly desirable and necessary. Inter-
ventions to promote workplace civility (such as Osatuke et al., 2009; Cisco Global Workplace
Civility program: Spreitzer et al., 2012; and Civility Among Healthcare Professionals (CAHP)
Project: Walsh & Magley, 2018) have brought important contributions to improve individual and
organizational outcomes and to show that workers in a civil professional environment thrive
(Spreitzer et al., 2012) and have higher levels of well-being. To accurately assess levels of WC and
interventions’ efficacy, a robust scale is desirable, and this is our immediate contribution.
Fundings
This research has been partially funded by Portuguese national funds through FCT – Por-
tuguese Foundation for Science and Technology – as part of the project Centre for Research in
Psychology – UAL. Grant UID/PSI/04345/2013.
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