Study Analyzes Relationship Between Workplace Ostracism and Employee Creativity

January 20, 2020by Noah Shaw

Summary of:

Chenji, K. and Sode, R., “Workplace ostracism and employee creativity: Role of defensive silence and psychological empowerment” (2019). Industrial and Commercial Training. 360-370.

Background & Theory:

Past studies have indicated that workplace ostracism suppresses self-efficacy and curtails social interactions. In response to being ostracized, employees sometimes cope with their situation by using defensive silence and the act of withholding facts, views, and ideas out of fear. Defensive silence helps maintain harmony but can lead to more stress, cynicism, dissatisfaction with career, and emotional exhaustion. Past research also indicates that psychological empowerment can buffer the experience of stress and promote creativity because one feels they can control their environment.


Research was completed to answer the following questions:

  1. How does workplace ostracism relate to employee creativity and defensive silence?
  2. Does defensive silence mediate the relationship between workplace ostracism and employee creativity?
  3. Does psychological empowerment moderate the relationship between workplace ostracism and employee creativity?


Data were collected from 453 respondents taken from three companies in India. Likert Scales were used to measure workplace ostracism, employee creativity, psychological empowerment, and defensive silence. Confirmatory factor analysis was conducted via structural equation modeling using the two-step approach to establish the empirical differences between the various study variables.


The research results detailed that there is a positive relationship between workplace ostracism and defensive silence. On the other hand, there is a negative relationship between workplace ostracism and employee creativity. When perceived psychological empowerment is low, defensive silence is found to mediate the relationship between workplace ostracism and employee creativity. This means that the feeling of being left out suppresses employee creativity. Additionally, the effect of workplace ostracism on employee creativity varies depending on the level of psychological empowerment.

What We Can Learn:

Looking over this research, we can take away this key insight:

  • Workplace ostracism can have a considerably negative effect on employees. Not only does it trigger defensive silence mechanisms, it also inhibits employee creativity. Psychological empowerment may be a good method to help counter workplace ostracism partly because it gives employees a feeling of control over their situation.

Final Takeaways

For Consultants: Workplace ostracism has the potential to catastrophically affect the organization. Finding methods (potentially psychological empowerment) that can prevent this ostracism is key to employee and organizational health.

For Everyone: Feeling like you are left out at work can be very difficult and can limit your creativity. Finding ways of feeling like you are in control of your situation may help to alleviate this difficulty.

Noah Shaw

Noah is the Peace Operations Coordinator at Pollack Peacebuilding Systems and holds a Master's in Dispute Resolution from the Pepperdine University Caruso School of Law.

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