Economists: Getting Back at Your Boss Sometimes Pays Off

"Retaliation may expose managerial misbehavior and could improve organizational effectiveness in the long term."

That's the bottom line according to Berkley economists who studied the implications of worker retribution against bosses who are seen as manipulative or oblivious. The authors found that "passive" retaliation, such as leaving a task uncompleted, was actually more effective than active retaliation, such as lashing out against your superior in public. Passive aggressives of the world: The research agrees with you!

Here's Berkley labor relations expert David I. Levine:

"Don't surprise people," says Levine, "When something is about to go wrong or goes wrong, tell your employees why. Managers face high risks of both active retaliation and passive withdrawal of effort if employees are harmed by what they view as a conscious management choice. To the extent that employees are harmed, managers should be sure employees see them sharing the pain, not profiting from employees' losses."

Read the full story at the Haas School Newsroom at UC-Berkley.

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Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

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