Past research on organizational revenge has often focused on the organization or organizational members (e.g., coworkers, or supervisors) as targets of revenge behaviours. Building on Tripp et al.'s (2007, 2009) model of workplace revenge, the present study examined the influence of customer incivility on customer directed revenge behaviours. Data from a survey of 434 customer service employees suggested that incivility from customers was positively associated with the service employee's desires for revenge and actual revenge behaviours against the uncivil customer. Specifically, employees who experienced customer incivility and blamed the customer for the mistreatment were more likely to desire and engage in revenge. Empathic concern, perspective taking and organizational tolerance of uncivil customers moderated the relationship between blame attributions and desire for revenge such that individuals who empathized with the transgressor, took his/her perspective, or perceived their organization as intolerant of uncivil customer behaviours were less likely to desire revenge. In addition, empathic concern moderated the relationship between blame attribution and actual revenge behaviours such that employees who empathized with the customer were less likely to act on their blame attributions and engage in revenge. Finally, empathic concern and perspective taking moderated the relationship between desire for revenge and actual revenge behaviours but in a direction opposite of the other observed moderation effects. Specifically, employees who empathized with the customer or took his/her perspective were more (not less) likely to act on their desires for revenge and engage in revenge. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings and directions for future research are discussed.
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