Titolo della tesi: ANTECEDENTS AND CONSEQUENCES OF DESIRE FOR CULTURAL TIGHTNESS IN ORGANIZATIONS
In every aspect of our life, we live according to social norms – unwritten, implicit norms that we rarely recognize and often take for granted. Within our country, city, organization, groups of friends and even family, we have social norms to follow. Citing Michelle Gelfand (2018, p. 3), “social norms are the glue that holds groups together”. The strictness of such norms varies between cultures: There are cultures with strong norms and low tolerance towards those who violate these norms, and cultures with flexible norms and indulgence towards deviation. The former are defined as tight, whereas the latter are defined as loose. Tightness-Looseness, as will be defined later in the first chapter, is a continuum where the two extremes represent respectively tightness and looseness, whereas different degrees of tightness-looseness can be found in the middle.
However, occasionally we are required to follow norms that we consider excessively rigid (i.e., tight) and want them to be more flexible. Or vice versa: in the face of overly elastic rules (i.e., loose), we might want them to be more stringent. Consequently, in the first case, it is possible to turn a blind eye in front of deviant behavior, while in the second case, it is more likely to wish that those who deviate from the norms will not get away with it.
The primary purpose of the present work is to investigate what drives people to desire tightness – i.e., desire for strict norms and severe punishments for those who deviate – within their work contexts, and what the consequences of this desire may be.
This thesis is divided into three sections or chapters. In the first chapter, the tightness-looseness construct is defined, and the most important research conducted so far on the subject is described. Chapter 1 will start from the anthropological research of Pelto, who investigated tightness-looseness in traditional societies, up to the present day, with the research of Gelfand and colleagues who investigate tightness-looseness in modern and even non-industrial societies.
In the second chapter, we focused on the organizational implications of tightness-looseness. Although the research on tightness-looseness in work contexts is still limited, there is some evidence regarding the influence of tightness-looseness on some specific organizational aspects (e.g., leadership effectiveness, creativity and organizational innovation, organizational deviance).
Finally, the third chapter is dedicated to describing the studies that compose the current research: a series of correlational (studies 1—4) and experimental (study 5) studies investigating the antecedents and consequences of the desire for tightness in organizations, as well as a meta-analysis. More specifically, the roles of employees’ need for cognitive closure and initiating leadership structure will be explored as antecedents, while self-control, work moral disengagement, and reactions to workplace deviance will be examined as possible consequences.
Introduction to the studies and discussions of them are reported. Finally, a general discussion will be outlined, including limitations and possible directions for future research.