Journal of Nursing Education

Major Article 

Exploring and Addressing Faculty-to-Faculty Incivility: A National Perspective and Literature Review

Cynthia M. Clark, PhD, RN, ANEF, FAAN; Lynda Olender, MS, RN, ANP, NEA-BC; Diane Kenski, BSN, RN; Cari Cardoni, BSN, RN

Abstract

This is the first-known quantitative study to measure nursing faculty perceptions of faculty-to-faculty incivility. A total of 588 nursing faculty representing 40 states in the United States participated in the study. Faculty-to-faculty incivility was perceived as a moderate to serious problem. The behaviors reported to be most uncivil included setting a coworker up to fail, making rude remarks or put-downs, and making personal attacks or threatening comments. The most frequently occurring incivilities included resisting change, failing to perform one’s share of the workload, distracting others by using media devices during meetings, refusing to communicate on work-related issues, and making rude comments or put-downs. Stress and demanding workloads were two of the factors most likely to contribute to faculty-to-faculty incivility. Fear of retaliation, lack of administrative support, and lack of clear policies were cited as the top reasons for avoiding addressing the problem of incivility. [J Nurs Educ. 2013;52(4):211–218.]

Dr. Clark is Professor, School of Nursing, Boise State University, and Ms. Kenski and Ms. Cardoni are registered nurses, St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center, Boise, Idaho; Ms. Olender is doctoral student, Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey; and Chief Nursing Officer, Rockefeller University Hospital, New York, New York.

The authors have disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.

The authors thank Dr. Kathleen Heinrich, who boldly pioneered the way with her groundbreaking studies on joy-stealing and whose careful, clarifying, and thoughtful review added greatly to the creation of this article.

Address correspondence to Cynthia Clark, PhD, RN, ANEF, FAAN, Professor, School of Nursing, Boise State University, 1910 University Dr., Boise, ID 83725; e-mail: cclark@boisestate.edu.

Received: June 26, 2012
Accepted: December 19, 2012
Posted Online: March 19, 2013

Abstract

This is the first-known quantitative study to measure nursing faculty perceptions of faculty-to-faculty incivility. A total of 588 nursing faculty representing 40 states in the United States participated in the study. Faculty-to-faculty incivility was perceived as a moderate to serious problem. The behaviors reported to be most uncivil included setting a coworker up to fail, making rude remarks or put-downs, and making personal attacks or threatening comments. The most frequently occurring incivilities included resisting change, failing to perform one’s share of the workload, distracting others by using media devices during meetings, refusing to communicate on work-related issues, and making rude comments or put-downs. Stress and demanding workloads were two of the factors most likely to contribute to faculty-to-faculty incivility. Fear of retaliation, lack of administrative support, and lack of clear policies were cited as the top reasons for avoiding addressing the problem of incivility. [J Nurs Educ. 2013;52(4):211–218.]

Dr. Clark is Professor, School of Nursing, Boise State University, and Ms. Kenski and Ms. Cardoni are registered nurses, St. Luke’s Regional Medical Center, Boise, Idaho; Ms. Olender is doctoral student, Seton Hall University, South Orange, New Jersey; and Chief Nursing Officer, Rockefeller University Hospital, New York, New York.

The authors have disclosed no potential conflicts of interest, financial or otherwise.

The authors thank Dr. Kathleen Heinrich, who boldly pioneered the way with her groundbreaking studies on joy-stealing and whose careful, clarifying, and thoughtful review added greatly to the creation of this article.

Address correspondence to Cynthia Clark, PhD, RN, ANEF, FAAN, Professor, School of Nursing, Boise State University, 1910 University Dr., Boise, ID 83725; e-mail: cclark@boisestate.edu.

Received: June 26, 2012
Accepted: December 19, 2012
Posted Online: March 19, 2013

Institutions of higher learning, particularly those whose mission includes the construction of nursing science and the development and mentoring of health care professionals, should be an exemplar of a civil academic culture. Unfortunately, in some academic environments, incivility among and between nursing faculty is a prevalent and frequently overlooked phenomenon (Clark & Springer, 2007). Incivility is defined as rude or disruptive behaviors often resulting in psychological or physiological distress for target faculty, which, if left unaddressed, may progress into threatening situations (Clark, 2009). In extreme cases, when uncivil or disruptive behaviors are ignored or poorly managed, they may be linked to campus violence (Shirey, 2007). Schmidt (2011) noted some recent examples of faculty aggression and references to violence. These behaviors have gained the attention of university leaders, especially in the aftermath of the 2010 shooting deaths of three biology professors and the wounding of three others at the hand of a professor who was denied tenure. The shooter pled guilty to the shootings and was sentenced to life in prison without parole. Schmidt further explained that colleges have gone beyond establishing threat-assessment teams for identifying students or employees who appear capable of violence; in some cases, they have rebuked faculty who made statements that could be construed as threatening, even when most who heard the remarks did not find cause for alarm. The acceptance of what might be considered threatening speech has declined. Conversely, when incivility is prevented and curtailed, acts of violence are minimized (Forni, 2008). Therefore, assessing academic incivility, including faculty-to-faculty incivility, and identifying ways to effectively prevent and address this phenomenon is both timely and critical for the health and welfare of our academic environments.

Overview of Faculty-to-Faculty Incivility

Faculty conflicts, such as collegial disagreement and academic debate, are natural phenomena within intellectual communities; if managed well, they contribute to a robust intellectual learning environment (McElveen, Leslie, & Malotky, 2006). However, if managed poorly or ignored, faculty discord, such as “personality conflicts, extreme self-interest, a high need for control or power, jealousy, spite, or revenge” (McElveen et al., 2006, p. 34) can lead to faculty incivility.

DalPezzo and Jett (2009) consider faculty to be a vulnerable population, given that exposure to incivility is commonplace in the academic settings and is associated with physical, psychological, and emotional harm. They suggested that faculty incivility can flourish within stressful academic environments. This stress may stem from faculty superiority, unmanageable faculty workload or the juggling of multiple roles, unclear roles and expectations (Clark, 2008a), organizational conditions and volatility, increasing technological demands, the lack of education or skills in managing conflict (Clark, Olender, Cardoni, & Kenski, 2011), or a combination of these factors. Other factors included faculty with mental health disorders and ineffective or uncivil leadership. Twale and De Luca (2008) suggested that faculty incivility may also be the result of a changing (more corporate) culture within academe. Examples included increased expectations for faculty productivity, either through academic achievements or along fiscal lines, such as through grant acquisitions.

Westhues (2004) suggested that the spiral of uncivil to bullying behaviors among faculty is frequently related to faculty envy of the achievements of others. Heinrich’s work investigating faculty-to-faculty incivility within nursing education also uncovered the envy of excellence among colleagues. Heinrich (2006a) described the envy of excellence in academe by way of joy-stealing games as a means of “extinguishing zestful partnerships and hindering the pursuit of knowledge and scholarship” (Heinrich, 2006a). These games encompass 10 categorical destructive behaviors, which feed feelings of disrespect, devaluing, or dismissal among faculty. By contrasting mentoring to tormenting, Heinrich (2011) underscored the destructive nature of these games, with tormenting behaviors being the antithesis of a supportive, mentoring environment and frequently leading to fragmentation within the academic division.

Uncivil actions may be presented as horizontal, top-down, or bottom-up violence (DalPezzo & Jett, 2009; Heinrich, 2006b, 2007). Whether through exclusion, competitiveness, lack of support, unequal workloads, or physical attacks, the toxicity of incivility has a detrimental effect on the development of scholarship and advancement in the profession (Heinrich, 2011). Longo and Sherman (2007) purported that some educators have lost pride in their vocation and that the product of an uncivil culture may lead to psychological and physical stress, sleep disorders, and depression (Clark, 2008a, 2008b). Simply put, the pleasure of the job has been diminished.

A few studies have reported the prevalence of faculty-to-faculty incivility or bullying in the academic setting (Cassell, 2011; Keashly & Nueman, 2010; McKay, Arnold, Fratzl, & Thomas, 2008; Stork, 2009). In a 2005 survey, 40% of faculty reported being a target of uncivil or bullying behaviors (Cassell, 2011). Results from this survey also suggested that respondents being victimized were primarily within caring or support professions (Cassell, 2011). Thirty-two percent of academic faculty (including nursing faculty) reported being exposed to incivility and bullying (Keashly & Nueman, 2010). According to a Canadian survey, McKay et al. (2008) found that 52% of non-nursing college faculty were exposed to uncivil or bullying behaviors. Finally, in a study designed to assess business students’ perceptions of faculty incivility (Stork & Hartley, 2009), one question within the Student Perceptions about Professor Behaviors tool asked students whether faculty degraded or criticized another professor (indicative of faculty-to-faculty incivility). Fifty-three percent of students responded affirmatively to this question.

Conversely, in a qualitative study, only 5% of 350 faculty and administrative colleagues perceived that faculty worked well together (Heinrich, 2006b). Teasing out threads common to cultivating civility from their respective research, Heinrich, Clark, and Luparell (2008) suggested that transparency and truth-telling can cultivate trusting collaborations with colleagues in academic workplaces. Moreover, Heinrich (2010a) offered strategies to operationalize transparency, truth telling, and tending to relationships with the intention of “mend(ing) the disconnects” (p. 330) within the academic workplace. Training in emotional intelligence, role-playing skills, and personal growth activities (healing old wounds, and becoming self-authorizing and self-transforming) increase the value of collaboration while diminishing the propensity of joy-stealing games and enhancing the productivity of faculty (Heinrich, 2007, 2011; McElveen et al., 2006). This collaborative shift (from competition to cooperation) fosters communal gain, rather than individual gain, among faculty (McElveen et al., 2006). Over time, these strategies and the use of appreciative inquiry and collaboration can transform a culture of academic incivility into “zestful workplaces” (Heinrich, 2011, p. 325). Fostering collaborative environments can be contagious in nature and can lead to a “culture of regard” (Olender-Russo, 2009, p. 78).

Because the literature lends support to the idea that faculty-to-faculty incivility is commonplace and is frequently unaddressed (Cassell, 2011; Clark & Springer, 2007; Keashly & Nueman, 2010; McKay et al., 2008; Stork, 2009), the researchers conducted a mixed methodological study to further examine this phenomenon. This quantitative portion of the study describes faculty perceptions of and frequency with faculty-to-faculty incivility, the contributing factors, and the reasons for avoiding the problem. However, there are several gaps in the literature that need to be addressed, including the exploration of age, gender, ethnic, and cultural differences in relation to faculty-to-faculty incivility. Other questions remain:

  • What are the descriptors of offenders, targets, and bystanders?
  • Do higher or more serious levels of incivility exist in nursing education compared with other disciplines?
  • What impact does faculty-to-faculty incivility have on recruitment, retention, and job satisfaction?

The qualitative portion of the study is outside the scope of this article (Clark, in press). This article includes the quantitative portion of the study and focuses on the following research questions:

  • To what extent is faculty-to-faculty incivility perceived to be a problem in nursing education?
  • Which faculty-to-faculty behaviors are perceived to be most uncivil?
  • What is the perceived frequency of uncivil faculty-to-faculty behaviors?
  • What factors contribute to faculty-to-faculty incivility?
  • What factors keep faculty from addressing faculty-to-faculty incivility?

Method

Instrument

The Faculty-to-Faculty Incivility Survey (F-FI Survey) was designed by one of the authors (C.M.C.) of the current study to measure faculty perceptions of, and frequency with, faculty incivility and effective ways to address the problem. The F-FI Survey was developed based on existing expertise, consultation with content experts, a thorough review of the literature (Boice, 1996; Braxton & Bayer, 1999, 2004; Clark, 2008a, 2008b; C.M. Clark, 2008; Clark & Springer 2010; Forni, 2008; Heinrich, 2006a, 2006b, 2007, 2010a, 2010b, 2011; Twale & De Luca, 2008), and extensive pilot testing. The initial pilot testing was completed by 21 nursing faculty members who reviewed the F-FI Survey for content validity, readability, and logical flow. Revisions to the F-FI Survey were made based on feedback from the pilot testing and critique of a panel of eight nursing faculty who found the items to be reflective of faculty-to-faculty incivility.

The F-FI Survey is composed of three sections. The first section includes demographic items; section two includes quantitative items; and section three includes two open-ended questions that garner faculty perceptions of their experiences with faculty-to-faculty incivility and the most effective ways to address the problem. The F-FI Survey includes a list of 31 faculty behaviors that may be considered uncivil. The quantitative items use a Likert scale, with a range of responses including always, sometimes, rarely, and never to indicate the degree to which faculty perceive the behaviors to be uncivil. A second block of questions measures the frequency with which nursing faculty experienced the uncivil behaviors within the past 12 months, using the responses often, sometimes, rarely, and never. Other quantitative items measure the extent to which nursing faculty members perceive incivility to be a problem, the factors perceived to contribute to faculty-to-faculty incivility, and reasons for faculty avoidance of addressing faculty-to-faculty incivility. Two open-ended questions asked faculty to describe an uncivil faculty encounter and to provide suggestions to effectively address faculty-to-faculty incivility. Responses to these questions will be reported in detail in a subsequent publication.

As a first step in establishing construct validity, we performed an exploratory factor analysis and a preliminary item response assessment, resulting in three underlying constructs that measure faculty-to-faculty incivility. The three factors include hostility toward individuals, self-serving behaviors, and hostility toward the work environment. To examine reliability, inter-item coefficients were calculated to evaluate the extent to which each item related to the rest of the items on the survey. Cronbach’s alpha for the F-FI Survey was calculated at 0.965, indicating excellent inter-item reliability. Following generally accepted practices, an alpha of 0.90 is considered very good to excellent reliability (George & Mallery, 2003). Additional psychometric testing is underway, and slight revisions have been made to the original instrument.

Procedure and Analysis

Institutional review board approval to conduct the study was obtained from Boise State University. A link to the F-FI Survey was sent via e-mail to nursing faculty in all 50 states in the United States. The study was conducted during a 2-month period between October and December 2011. After providing consent, the survey was self-administered using a secure, Web-based interface and Qualtrics® survey software. Participation was voluntary and all responses were collected anonymously and reported as aggregate data. The anonymous collection of information ensured confidentiality, as there was no link between the data collected and the respondent. Data preparation and descriptive statistical analysis were performed using SPSS® software.

Results

Respondents totaled 588 nursing faculty from 40 states. Most respondents were women (95%) and were from the United States (97%). Most respondents were Caucasian (88%), with 6% African American and almost 3% indicating mixed race. Although respondents’ ages ranged from 27 to 78 years, most respondents were 40 years or older; the 25th, 50th, and 75th percentiles of respondent age were 49, 56, and 61, respectively. The median time spent teaching was 10 years, with the range being less than 1 year to 40 years. Many (71%) of the respondents hold academic positions; 51% are assistant, associate, or full professors in an academic setting, with the remainder being in clinical positions or nontenure-track positions. Sixty-two percent of respondents teach primarily in associate or baccalaureate nursing programs, and 55% teach at the master’s or doctoral level.

To address the first research question, the extent to which nursing faculty perceive faculty-to-faculty incivility to be a problem in nursing education, we evaluated a specific question from the instrument. Of the 506 respondents answering this question, nearly 68% indicated they found faculty-to-faculty incivility to be a moderate (37.5%) or serious (30%) problem. Thirty percent indicated it was a mild problem (26%) or not a problem (4%).

The second research question was addressed based on the choices of always, sometimes, rarely, and never regarding whether a behavior was considered uncivil. We found 22 behaviors that were considered by more than 80% of the respondents to be always or sometimes uncivil. The responses are presented in Table 1. Using the same list of behaviors, the third research question examined the perceived frequency of faculty-to-faculty behaviors occurring within the past 12 months. Five behaviors were considered by more than 60% of faculty as often or sometimes uncivil, including resisting change or being unwilling to negotiate (70%), failing to perform one’s share of the workload (67%), distracting others by using media devices during meetings (64%), refusing to listen or openly communicate about work issues (63%), and making rude remarks or put-downs (67%). We found 12 faculty-to-faculty behaviors that were perceived by more than 50% of the respondents to occur often or sometimes within the past 12 months. These responses are displayed in Table 2. Five frequently occurring behaviors were also noted by the respondents as being often or sometimes uncivil. These five behaviors included refusing to listen or openly communicate on work-related issues, making rude remarks or put-downs toward others, gossiping or starting rumors, consistently interrupting, and abusing one’s position or authority.

Behaviors Considered Always or Usually Uncivil by More Than 80% of Respondents (N = 588)

Table 1: Behaviors Considered Always or Usually Uncivil by More Than 80% of Respondents (N = 588)

Most Frequently Occurring Uncivil Behaviors Experienced Often or Sometimes (N = 588)

Table 2: Most Frequently Occurring Uncivil Behaviors Experienced Often or Sometimes (N = 588)

The fourth research question investigated the factors that contribute to faculty-to-faculty incivility and was directly addressed with the instrument. More than 50% of respondents identified six factors; stress (72%) and demanding workloads (70%) were the two most commonly identified. Table 3 presents the top six factors contributing to faculty-to-faculty incivility.

Top Factors That Contribute to Faculty-to-Faculty Incivility in the Academic Environment (N = 588)

Table 3: Top Factors That Contribute to Faculty-to-Faculty Incivility in the Academic Environment (N = 588)

The factors that keep faculty from addressing faculty-to-faculty incivility were measured by a specific survey question: “If you avoid dealing with faculty incivility, what keeps you from addressing it?” The top factor reported for avoiding addressing uncivil behavior was fear of retaliation and reprisal (48%). For example, one respondent commented on the dread and anxiety she felt when a seasoned, tenured faculty member and chairperson for the Promotion and Tenure Committee threatened to sway the committee members to vote against her application for tenure in retaliation for what the chairperson perceived as “challenging her in a faculty meeting.” The other top reasons for avoidance included lack of administrator support (43%) and lack of clear policies to address the problem (41%). The responses are displayed in Table 4.

Top Factors That Keep Faculty From Addressing Faculty-to-Faculty Incivility (N = 588)

Table 4: Top Factors That Keep Faculty From Addressing Faculty-to-Faculty Incivility (N = 588)

Discussion

This quantitative study contributes original and unique information to the body of literature regarding faculty-to-faculty incivility in nursing education. In this study, a majority of nursing faculty perceived faculty-to-faculty incivility to be a moderate or serious problem, suggesting that faculty incivility may be a commonplace and a frequently ignored phenomenon. Compared with other studies in higher education, we found a 68% level of severity of incivility, whereas studies by Keashly and Nueman (2010) and Cassel (2011) reported 32% and 40% incivility, respectfully. However, in those same studies, the proportion of faculty working well together was notably low, indicated by 4% of respondents stating incivility was not a problem in the workplace. These findings are essentially equal to the 5% found by Heinrich (2010a), suggesting the need for an increased sense of collegiality in academe.

In some cases, faculty may be unaware of how their behaviors affect others. Raising awareness about the types and frequency of faculty-to-faculty incivility and describing its impact on individuals, teams, and organizations is essential to preventing and minimizing undesirable behaviors. Emphasis must be placed on treating one another with civility and respect, given that these conditions are fundamental to establishing and sustaining healthy workplaces, fostering interpersonal and intrapersonal relationships, and contributing to the ongoing success of top-performing work teams and highly effective organizations. Reflecting and thinking deeply about civil and respectful interactions with others and engaging in thoughtful self-reflection are important steps toward improving civility competence (Clark, 2013). Further, obtaining colleague or mentor feedback on one’s perceived level of civility competence improves awareness and helps determine the strengths to be reinforced, as well as areas for improvement. The Work-place Civility Index© (Clark, 2013) is a tool that measures civility competence and provides a means to discover and discuss ways to maintain positive aspects of one’s civility index and identify strategies to address areas for self-improvement. Other ways to raise awareness include providing forums for faculty to openly express their concerns and directly address issues, which can increase understanding and open new avenues for support.

In this study, faculty-to-faculty behaviors perceived to be most uncivil or most frequent mirror the uncivil behaviors reported to be common within non-nursing academic settings (Twale & De Luca, 2008) and are congruent with Heinrich’s description of joy-stealing games (2007), defined as conflicted relationships with students, colleagues, and administrators that cause stress in the work environment. Respondents in this study perceived a number of faculty-to-faculty behaviors to be most uncivil, including setting a coworker up to fail, making rude remarks or threatening comments, abusing position and authority, and withholding vital information. These behaviors can have a devastating impact on relationships, as well as the organization at large. Thus, fostering collegiality and improving relationships among nursing faculty are important factors in reducing incivility. Academic nurse leaders and faculty members must find common interests and mutual goals that may be collaboratively accomplished. Heinrich (2010b) suggested that equipping faculty groups to engage in “passionate scholarship” (p. E57) can cultivate a community of scholarly caring that retains and attracts the best and brightest faculty members. To create the conditions that foster such communities, (Heinrich (2010a, 2011) recommended that faculty colleagues adopt partnership practices proven effective in keeping collaborations productive, pleasurable, and mutually beneficial.

From an organizational perspective, Clark and Springer (2010) stressed the importance of enhancing faculty engagement by increasing organizational support. This may be accomplished by assessing the culture and climate of the academic workplace, conducting faculty focus groups to assess the cultural climate, implementing collaborative strategies that foster civility, and reinforcing behaviors that strengthen the academic environment. Faculty members are more likely to be invested in the success of the organization if they are actively engaged and when a high level of organizational support is present. Increasing organizational support may lead to cyclical interactions in which employees support one another as they experience support from the organization and each other. This support could mediate the occurrence of uncivil behaviors.

The most frequent uncivil faculty-to-faculty behaviors included resisting change, consistently failing to perform his or her share of the workload, and distracting others by using media devices during meetings. The latter behavior of distracting others by using media devices during meetings is an overt action that is frequently minimized and perhaps normalized, not only in academic cultures but also within other settings. Perhaps clarifying attentiveness to the agenda and establishing ground rules (including restricting the use of media devices during meeting times) that are evaluated in meeting closure can avert the contagious nature of this insidious phenomenon. Of note, respondents in this study did not mention faculty envy as an example of faculty-to-faculty incivility. However, in related studies, Westhues (2004) and Heinrich (2006a) described faculty envy of colleagues’ achievements as a potential contributor to incivility.

The contributing factors to faculty-to-faculty incivility in this study included unequal workloads, stress, unclear roles, and organizational conditions; these factors are consistent with those included in the Conceptual Model for Fostering Civility in Nursing Education and Practice© (Clark et al., 2011). The importance of modeling effective communication and successfully addressing incivility can reduce its incidence and effects and can assist in fostering cultures of civility. Many of these factors involve varying levels of stress; thus, stress reduction strategies and self-care measures need to be used. The vision of the American Holistic Nurses Association (2012) includes a world in which nursing nurtures wholeness and inspires peace and healing. The American Holistic Nurses Association recommends several stress management techniques, including diaphragmatic breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery, and mindful meditation. Other stress reduction techniques include finding quiet time for reflection and contemplation, journaling, yoga, and stretching exercises, as well as talking with a trusted person when worries build.

Factors that keep faculty from addressing faculty-to-faculty incivility included fear of retaliation, lack of administrative support, and lack of clear policies to address the problem. Whether real or perceived, faculty feared work-related reprisal and a lack of administrative support. Thus, developing and implementing clear, confidential, nonpunitive guidelines for reporting and addressing uncivil faculty behavior is critical to faculty satisfaction and organizational stability. It is also important for leaders to enforce policies and procedures for addressing incivility, following through with sanctions if indicated, and rewarding civility and collegiality.

The perceived lack of administrative support reported in this study underscores the need for skilled and effective leadership. Academic leaders play a critical role in creating and sustaining civil academic environments by setting the tone, by role modeling the type of professional interactions expected in the workplace, and by creating shared vision statements and norms that reflect an emphasis on civility and respect. Without functional norms, desired behavior is ill defined and thus, members of the campus community are left to “make things up as they go along” (Clark, 2012, p. 34). Sufficient time must be dedicated to cocreating norms so all members of the faculty are able to identify behaviors that lead to effective team functioning and contribute to a healthy work environment. Some common examples of norms include how each team member will communicate, resolve conflicts, and conduct themselves in meetings. Once the norms are determined, it is important to discuss how each member will live the norms and what will happen if the norms are violated. When faculty collaborate to cocreate norms for desired behavior, they are more likely to approve of and conform to these behaviors. Once the norms are agreed on, they become the standard for faculty interactions. To keep them dynamic, they will need to be reviewed, revisited, and revised on a regular basis. Leaders are powerful role models and consistently elicit messages and clues as to what they consider to be acceptable behavior. Even when a leader does not exhibit incivility, he or she is condoning it if uncivil behaviors are left unaddressed and unabated. Ignoring or failing to address the uncivil behavior damages the organization as much, if not more, than the incivility itself (Stokowski, 2011). The need for positive administrative role modeling and ongoing support is essential to creating civil workplaces.

Respondents also noted that faculty avoid addressing incivility because doing so may lead to poor peer evaluations. This finding calls into question the way in which evaluations are conducted in higher education. Carter (2008) noted that some faculty believe they may benefit from thoughtful peer review of their teaching; however, other faculty find the peer-review process intimidating or meaningless, especially if there is a lack of collegiality. Luparell (2003) studied the impact of student incivility on faculty and found that in many cases, faculty did not report the uncivil student behavior to college administrators for fear of losing their jobs because negative student input on faculty evaluations is closely tied to progress toward promotion and tenure. A similar fear may exist in relationship to the perceived impact of faculty incivility on the process of faculty peer review and evaluation.

In a similar vein, faculty evaluations may need to be expanded to include interpersonal effectiveness criteria beyond the traditional triumvirate of teaching, scholarship, and service. A faculty member may be proficient or even excel in all three areas, yet fail to get along with colleagues and add value to the organizational culture. Including civility criteria in faculty evaluations and expanding them to include a 360° process may be a delicate matter, but it may also help to create a more functional work team. Although the American Association of University Professors (1999) discouraged creating a separate category for collegiality, it does not deny that collegiality, collaboration, and constructive cooperation are important aspects of a faculty member’s overall performance. They suggest that instead of isolating collegiality as a separate criterion for faculty evaluation, institutions of higher education should focus on developing clear definitions of teaching, scholarship, and service, in which collegiality is reflected. In any case, collegiality and civility are closely related, and leaders are challenged to consider effective ways to evaluate both.

Limitations and Recommendations

Because the F-FI Survey is a new instrument, further psychometric testing is needed to confirm or improve validity and reliability estimates and confirm underlying factors. This is the first known quantitative study to examine nursing faculty perceptions of faculty-to-faculty incivility in nursing education. Further studies are needed to provide comparison and to enhance the potential for valid generalizations about the findings. In addition, further replication studies are needed to continue to validate the extent and frequency of the problem.

Conclusion

Nursing programs are challenged, yet well positioned, to serve as exemplars of civility in higher education. Raising awareness, building collegial relationships, and fostering organizational civility must be emphasized throughout the nursing program. Academic leaders set the tone for a respectful workplace, and inclusion of faculty in policy development and performance evaluation may encourage individual and collective involvement and accountability for a civil work environment. Cocreated norms that undergo regular review, revision, and affirmation allow for a dynamic and civil culture to exist and thrive. These findings suggest, and the literature supports, fostering a sense of community, reinforcing faculty relationships, and providing open forums to discuss and generate solutions for incivility that can create a culture of civility.

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Behaviors Considered Always or Usually Uncivil by More Than 80% of Respondents (N = 588)

BehaviorNo. (%) of Respondents Always or Usually
Set you or a coworker up to fail552 (94)
Made rude remarks or put-downs toward you or others552 (94)
Made personal attacks or threatening comments547 (93)
Abused his or her position of authority540 (92)
Withheld vital information necessary to perform your job duties540 (92)
Made racial, ethnic, sexual, gender, or religious slurs540 (92)
Gossiped or started rumors about you or other people540 (92)
Encouraged others to turn against you or another coworker540 (92)
Made physical threats against another faculty member535 (91)
Made rude nonverbal behaviors (gestures) toward you or others535 (91)
Took credit for another faculty member’s work/contributions535 (91)
Called you or others namesa466 (89)
Consistently demonstrated an “entitled” or “narcissistic” attitude toward othersa441(89)
Sent inappropriate e-mails to you or other facultya440 (88)
Consistently interrupted you or other facultya440 (88)
Breeched a confidence (shared personal or private information about you)a464 (87)
Refused to listen or openly communicate on work-related issuesa464 (87)
Circumvented the normal grievance process (e.g., going above someone’s head or failing to follow procedures to resolve conflict)a431 (86)
Used the “silent treatment” against you or another faculty membera428 (85)
Forwarded private e-mails to someone else without your knowledge or permissiona426 (85)
Intentionally excluded or left others out of activitiesa426 (82)
Used vulgarity or profanity in meetingsa422 (82)

Most Frequently Occurring Uncivil Behaviors Experienced Often or Sometimes (N = 588)

BehaviorNo. (%) of Respondents Indicating Often or Sometimes
Resisted change or were unwilling to negotiate411 (70)
Consistently failed to perform his or her share of the workload394 (67)
Distracted others by using media during meetings (computers, cell phones, handheld devices, work, or newspapers)376 (64)
Refused to listen or openly communicate on work-related issues370 (63)
Made rude remarks or put-downs toward you or others370 (63)
Engaged in secretive meetings behind closed doorsa300 (58)
Gossiped or started rumors about you or other peoplea295 (57)
Intentionally excluded or left others out of activitiesa287 (56)
Consistently interrupted you or other facultya276 (56)
Abused his or her position or authoritya275 (55)
Made unreasonable demandsa267 (54)
Challenged another faculty member’s knowledge or credibilitya249 (51)

Top Factors That Contribute to Faculty-to-Faculty Incivility in the Academic Environment (N = 588)

Contributing Factor IdentifiedNo. (%) of Respondents
Stress423 (72)
Demanding workloads411 (70)
Unclear roles and expectations and imbalance of power388 (66)
Organizational conditions are volatile and stressful364 (62)
Faculty superiority305 (52)
Juggling multiple roles305 (52)

Top Factors That Keep Faculty From Addressing Faculty-to-Faculty Incivility (N = 588)

Factor IdentifiedNo. (%) of Respondents
Fear of retaliation282 (48)
Lack of administrator support253 (43)
Do not have a clear policy to address faculty incivility241 (41)
It takes too much time and effort147 (25)
Addressing incivility may lead to poor peer evaluations111 (19)
Lack of knowledge and skills111 (19)

10.3928/01484834-20130319-01

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