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.

Presented by

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

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

A Stop-Motion Tour of New York City

A filmmaker animated hundreds of still photographs to create this Big Apple flip book

Video

The Absurd Psychology of Restaurant Menus

Would people eat healthier if celery was called "cool celery?"

Video

This Japanese Inn Has Been Open For 1,300 Years

It's one of the oldest family businesses in the world.

Video

What Happens Inside a Dying Mind?

Science cannot fully explain near-death experiences.

More in Business

Just In