An experimental investigation of the interpersonal ramifications of lateness to workplace meetings

Joseph E. Mroz, Joseph A. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

5 Scopus citations

Abstract

Individuals often attend meetings at work to which at least one person arrives late. Building from attributional theories of interpersonal behaviour, we conducted an experiment to determine the cognitive, affective, and behavioural components of people's reactions to meeting lateness. Participants read one of eight experimental vignettes that described someone arriving 5 or 15 min late to an important or unimportant meeting, after which the person who arrived late offered either a controllable or an uncontrollable reason for being late. Participants reported greater anger and a willingness to punish the late arrival who gave a controllable excuse, whereas sympathy and prosocial intentions followed the late arrival who gave an uncontrollable excuse. To establish generalizability, we replicated the results using a survey of workers who reported on their thoughts and experiences in their last meeting to which someone arrived late. Overall, our findings also indicated that accounting for the severity of the transgression uniquely contributed to emotional and behaviour reactions, which is an improvement on existing attributional models. Practitioner points: Arriving late to workplace meetings can have negative effects on interpersonal relationships, despite the prevalence of the behaviour. Organizations and managers should encourage all meeting attendees to arrive to meetings on time – this avoids the negative effects of lateness and also sets the stage for positive meeting interactions. Managers can take steps to mitigate the effects of lateness if it occurs. Agendas should be flexible to allow the movement of discussion points if someone arrives late.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)508-534
Number of pages27
JournalJournal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology
Volume90
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017

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Keywords

  • attribution theory
  • interpersonal relations
  • workplace meetings

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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