Mortality Salience Effects on Discipline Reinforcement Behavior in
Putu Saroyini Piartrini
University of Udayana
Globalization increases diversity in work environtment in Indonesia, particularly in Bali. Diversity was not just linked with sexual characteristic, cultural identity and race but it also linked with social psychology condition of the company employees. These challenges have been exist in many organization which employees come from several country or consist of several ethnic group. However, with the right information about how situation could influence employee behavior, management would be able to manage employee diversity and their inclusion successfully.
Discipline policies implementation as not in vacum. There were some factors that influenced management decision regarding employee violation behavior. The level of punishment can be influenced by environment condition which directly activated death related thought. Based on terror management theory developed by Pyszyczynki, Greenberg, Solomon, Lyon (1986), mortality salience condition was a condition when death related thought dominant had significant impact on decision of the judge. Research found that the bond charged to the prostitute was higher in high mortality salience condition than that in low mortality condition (Rosenblatt and Greenberg, Solomon, Pyszczynski, Lyon (1989). The response was reflection of worldview defense mechanism adopten by individuals to lessen their death anxiety due to death awareness activated through media publication.
Discipline Policy and Violation Behavior
Businesss environment increasingly complicated. For decades tourism business companies operating in Bali such as airlines, international chain hotels and restaurants managed employees come from different countries with different culture to run its operating activities. In multi culture environment, performance management activities was more complicated that that ini single culture or less diverse workforce environment. The effective workforce discipline policies and procedures should accomodate cultural difference aspects. Workforce Management provided guidance and frame of refference for how the company deals with employee behavior that was not comply with company mision and code of conduct. Discipline policies were statement of purpose which highlight guidlines of action to be taken to meet ethical standards of the company. Procedures explain how a set of standar behavior that must be adhered compared to employee behavior. Discipline policy usually included issues such as personal and professional responsibilities and accountabilities in dealing with peer, customer and management.
company policies violation could be seen as threats and stimulated higher intensity punishment in a high mortality salience condition.
To date the theory has been applied and examined in general human behavior and consumer behavior context. Present research was based on Terror Management Theory to examine whether mortality salience condition applicable on management decision in implementing dicipline policies. This study has two potential contributions. The first one was that this study constributed in extending empirical evidences of application of terror management theory in Bali, Indonesia. As we know, Bali was environment which has specific culture and belieft relevant to the study regarding examining the relationship between death axiety and individual behavior. Balinese is a group of people who belieft in reincarnation. Based on this belieft Balinese people view death as mechanism to improve their Karma. The second contribution of the research would be the information from organizational context, particularly punishment decision on employee misconduct as a reflection of worldview defense mechanism. This contributions certainly would enrich the empirical findings of Terror Management Theory Application.
The purpose of the research reported in this article was to test some hypotheses derived from terror management theory regarding reactions to those who violate companies standard of conduct as proxy to organizational cultural an should be part of individual employee worldviews. According to the theory, protection from death anxiety requires that one achieve a sense of value or self-esteem based on community acceptable beliefs. The experiment were conducted to examine whether individual reactions on standard of conduct violation in high mortality salience condition different from that in low mortality salience condition. The role of social identification in relationship between mortality salience condition and individual reaction on misconduct behavior was also scrutinized. The study was based on Terror Management Theory and Social Identity Theory perspectives.
Terror Management Theory
Terror management theory which developed by Pyszscynski, Greenberg, Solomon and Lyon (1989) provides alternative perspective on describe underlying motif behind human behaviors. The theory explains that the awareness of undeniable death create anxiety. People trying to control their anxiety through control their behavior in order to comply with community standard of value. When they comply with the standard of behavior they would enjoy security and believe that they are valuable contributors. In other word they will gain self esteem if they able to meet cultural standards employed by the community.
Mortality Salience and Worldview Defense Reactions
The mortality salience is the condition in which the awareness of inevitable death dominant in individual cognition. It is because individuals were exposed on death related events or information such as transportation accidents, natural disasters, criminal victims or simply after attending cremation ceremony which is part of daily activities for most of people. The mortality salience hypothesis states that if psychological structure either worldview faith or self-esteem functions as a buffer against death concerns, reminding individuals of death should increase their need for that structure. So that reminding inevitable death will increase mortality salience and increase the need for the protection provided by faith in the cultural worldview and self esteem. It influences evaluations of people whose behavior, beliefs, similar or different from that of them. It is reflected on an enhanced positive evaluation of those who support the worldview and an enhanced negative evaluation of those violation or deviate from the worldview Mortality salience (MS) also amplified preferences for worldview-supporting others over worldview-challenging others (worldview defense reaction).
Regarding the emergent of MS effects, researches indicated that worldview defense occurred when worldview related objects more accessible, worldview defense increases (Greenberg et al., 1994). It is supported by the findings that the higher death-construct accessibility, the stronger worldview defense reactions (Arndt, Greenberg. Pyszczynski & Solomon. 1996; Arndt, Greenberg, Pyszczynski. Solomon. & Simon, in press; Greenberg et al. 1994; Simon. Additional support for this analysis reported by (Arndt. Greenberg. Pyszczynski, Solomon, & Simon) that whereas participants who had not been given the opportunity to defend their worldview exhibited high death-construct accessibility following MS while participants who were given the opportunity to defend their worldview exhibited low construct accessibility. Following MS condition, high death-construct accessibility activates worldview defense and that worldview defense reduces death-death-construct accessibility.
moral transgressors (Burns & Harmon-Jones, 1996; Othman & Reichelt, 1994; Rosenblatt. Greenberg. Solomon, Pyszczynski. & Lyon. 1989), increased preference for people who praise their country over those who criticize it (Greenberg et al., 1990), increased preference for in-group members over out-group members in a minimal group paradigm (Harmon-Jones, Greenberg, Solomon, & Simon, 1996), and physical distancing from foreigners (Ochsmann & Mathay, 1994).
These effects have emerged in experiments in which a variety of target individuals and issues have been used, and the effects have been replicated in several different countries (United States, Canada, Germany, and Israel). This study was one that conducted in Bali based on data accumulated from Balinese who have different belieft regarding death and live after death. Formulation of the relationship between mortality salience condition and employee suspension was presented as below:
H1: Employee suspension in high mortality salience condition was significantly longer than that in low mortality salience condition.
Mortality Salience and Self-Esteem Bolstering Reactions
Terror management theory stated that increased self-esteem should enhance the functioning of the cultural anxiety buffer and thereby provide protection against death concerns. If high self-esteem potentially can reduces the effects of MS on worldview defense. The result of experiment reported that increasing self-esteem, decreased the worldview defense that occurs in response to reminders of mortality. If this decrease occurred because of the protection that self-esteem provides from mortality concerns, then MS should have less impact not only on individuals whose self-esteem has been situationally elevated but also on individuals who are dispositionally high in self-esteem. This study predicted that MS would have less of an effect on individuals with high self-esteem than on individuals with low self-esteem. Individuals with high dispositional self-esteem would engage in more worldview defense than would individuals with moderate dispositional self-esteem. This prediction is predicated on the idea that individuals high in self-esteem may be deriving more self-worth from the cultural worldview and therefore may be more invested in the worldview and more biased in favor of it. Based on this perspective relationship between mortality salience employee suspension intensity as the
The study tested the hypothesis that higher levels of self-esteem would reduce the effects that MS has on worldview defense. If self-esteem provides protection against mortality concerns, and if increased defense of the worldview after reminders of mortality is a response to mortality concerns, then high levels of self-esteem should reduce or eliminate the worldview defense that occurs in response to MS. We tested this hypothesis by assessing the interactive effects of self-esteem and MS on worldview defense. self-esteem variable was measured prior to the manipulation of mortality salience treatment. The interaction effect of mortality salience and individual self esteem was formulated as below.
H2 : In high mortality condition, employee suspension decided by high self esteem individual was longer than that that decided by low self esteem individual.
One hundred and one managers in hospitality industry operating in Bali, such as hotel manager, airline manager, and travel and tour operators involved in the experiments. All of the participants are company managers who have been living in Bali for more than five years. They were between 40 to 55 years old. 53% of the participants were men while the others are woman. All of the parcipants believe in Hindhu and live in Bali more than 10 years. The experiment design was between subject with two factorial : 2 ( high MS Vs Low MS) X 2 (high SE vs Low SE). Data were analyzed by analysis one way variance (ANOVA).
Finally participant were asked to fill the number of the participants were asked to read a short scenario regarding employee failure to adhere the requirements of corruption act. The participants were asked to assign how long the employee should be suspended because of the misconduct. Participants were informed that for that kind of violation employee could be suspended between 1 month to 5 month before termination decision.
Results and Discussion
To assess the effectiveness of the mortality salience manipulation, we conducted analysis of variance (ANOVA) on the number of word completion item. Main effect of mortality salience manipulation was effective ( F (l, 109) = 20.690 and p < .001) . The number of death related completion words was higher significantly in high mortality salience group ( M (ms_hig) = 2,3 error 0.133) compared to that in low mortality salience group (M(ms_low) = 1.50; error = 0.093). Mortality salience manipulation had no impact on participants mood (F (1,109) = 2.90 ; p < 0.091). In other word we can say that did not mediate relationship between mortality salience and individual reaction on indiscipline employee behavior.
ANOVA revealed that the model of the main effect of mortality salience and interaction effect of mortality salience and individual self esteem was significant, F(1,107) = 7.137; p < 0.009). In high mortality salience condition, individual decided longer period of suspension (M = 2.63 month ; sdt.error = 0.127) than that in low mortality salience condition ( M = 2.147 month ; std.error = 0.128). Interaction effect of individual self esteem and mortality salience condition on suspension decision was significant ( F(2,107) = 3.368 ; p = 0.038). In high mortality condition, employee suspension decided by participants who had high self esteem was longer (M = 3 month ; std dev.= 0.75) than that decided by participants who had low self esteem ( M= 2.42 month ; std dev. = 2.4).
The result indicated that in low mortality salience condition employee suspension decided by participants who had high self esteem also higher (M = 2.4 month ; std. dev. = 0.82) than that decided by participants who had low self esteem (M = 1.56 month ; std. dev. = 0.80). In low mortality salience condition, employee suspension decided by participants who had high self esteem in low mortality salience condition M = 2.45 month ; std.dev. 0.80) similar to that decided by participants who had low self esteem in high mortality condition (M = 2.42 month ; std. dev. = 0.80).
Further result described that employee suspension period decided by participants who had low self esteem in low mortality salience condition also significantly lower (M = 1.56 month; std. dev. = 169) than that decided by participants who had low self esteem in high mortality condition (M= 2.4 month ; std.dev = 143). The result indicated that mortality salience moderated effect self esteem on reaction toward misconduct behavior. The strongest punishment was decided by participant who had high self esteem in high mortality condition. These findings consistent with previous findings reported by Rosenblatt, Greenberg, Solomon, Pyszscynski and Lyon (1989). It was reflection of worldview defense behavior in high mortality salience condition especially for those who had high self esteem. Low self-esteem participants evidenced showed less worldview defense than did high-self esteem participants.
Limitation and Further Research Recommendation
Terror management theory suggests, mortality salience increased punishment of the standard violation behavior among subjects who believed that the target's behavior was truly improper based on organizational policies or procedures. The suspension decided would be higher than that decided in low mortality salience condition. It is a reflection of worldview defense mechanism adopted by individuals to control their death anxiety and up hold their cultural standard.
The implications of the research findings on managing employees’ discipline, management needs to design its discipline policies as transparent as possible. Procedures and parameters of punishment for every violation behavior should be specific and measureable there would be minimum individual bias when deciding punishment for violation behavior. It is the way how to build procedural justice and distribution justice at the same time. The research findings contributed to enrich the effect of mortality salience on punishment from organizational behavior context with diversity.
However, this study had several limitations. First limitation was that we did not control individual characteristics that had potential impact on reaction toward violation behavior such as participants identification with his or her company. We also did not control sexual identification of the participant which reported had potential compound effect on interpersonal behavior based on previous research findings. Future research recommended making some improvement by accommodating the limitation of this study to evaluate consistency of the information.
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