While the competence of subordinates is considered desirable in the workplace, it may create challenges in managing people in organizations. This study examines why subordinates’ competence triggers ostracism within the workplace based on social comparison theory and previous insecurity studies. Data from both managers (N = 130) and their subordinates (N = 231) provided findings which affirm that, first, some managers regard competent subordinates as potential challengers and thus develop a feeling of insecurity, which creates motivation for the ostracism of those competent subordinates. Second, those subordinates who feel ostracized by managers may show less commitment toward their managers, feel less confident and engage in negative gossip about their managers. The implications of competence triggered ostracism for management include that competent subordinates require active management and development to avoid potentially damaging relationships between managers and subordinates emerging which would be detrimental to the organization.
International Journal of Human Resource management, pp.1-27