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Challenging envy in organizations: multicultural approaches and possibilities

Alberto G. Canen Ana Canen

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Alberto G. Canen Ana Canen, (2012),"Challenging envy in organizations: multicultural approaches and possibilities", Business Strategy
Series, Vol. 13 Iss 5 pp. 199 - 207
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Challenging envy in organizations:

multicultural approaches and possibilities
Alberto G. Canen and Ana Canen

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Alberto G. Canen is based
at COPPE, Federal
University of Rio de Janeiro,
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Ana
Canen is based in the
Department of Educational
Studies, Federal University
of Rio de Janeiro, Rio de
Janeiro, Brazil.

Although envy has been a subject relevant in literature and addressed in both romantic and
religious materials, among others, it could arguably be more researched in the academic
milieu. The relevance of the issue can be felt insofar as its consequences can be harmful
both to people involved and to organizational climate, including that of Higher Education
Institutions (HEIs). In fact, envy can deteriorate the HEI climate and have detrimental
implications in teaching, researching, and extension or continuing education programmes,
inasmuch as it saps peoples energy and provokes inner conflicts that may prevent
institutional flourishing. It therefore represents a crucial element in the so-called hidden
curriculum of any institution, including higher education ones.
The present paper intends to further the analysis on that subject, from a multicultural
perspective. It argues that working towards building multicultural organizations (Canen and
Canen, 2005), which values cultural diversity and builds on transparency of actions and the
challenge of bullying and prejudices at the workplace can considerably diminish the effects
of envious actions in institutions. In order to build the argument, it firstly identifies trends in
the area; it then turns to a qualitative methodology of story lives in the form of narratives of
main actors in high echelons of academic and industrial institutions in Brazil that deal with
key areas in the HEI scenarios. We have undertaken semi-structured interviews in the
organization sites. Those leaders have been selected on the basis of access due to direct
personal contact by the authors, and also because they represent high echelon leaders in
their organizations. Both the leaders and the organizations were kept confidential for ethical
reasons, and we will refer to them in ways that do not make it possible to identify them.
The paper problematizes what possible models of multicultural leaders could emerge from
those narratives, contending that organizational climate and faculty academic energy,
productivity and capacity for innovation issues increasingly addressed in institutional
evaluation should be likely boosted in environments where leaders competently deal
proactively in a way that prevents envy to manifest itself. The paper is relevant comparatively
in that it not only focuses on an issue that may be increasing world wide in times of
institutional heightened competition and quest for productivity, but also because it tries to
present positive alternatives to deal with it.
Given the qualitative nature of its approach and the originality of its theme, it is an exploratory
study aiming at providing insights about envy in institutions and the relevance of working
towards viewing them as multicultural organizations as a way to counteract the breeding of
that deleterious feeling.

Envy in organizations: setting the problem

Innovation, discovery, and productivity are key words used worldwide to assess
organizations in the contemporary world, including Higher Education Institutions (HEIs).

DOI 10.1108/17515631211264078

VOL. 13 NO. 5 2012, pp. 199-207, Q Emerald Group Publishing Limited, ISSN 1751-5637


PAGE 199

However, such categories are not universal truths, being subject to lauding as well as
criticisms related to the extent to which organizations, particularly HEIs, may be turning into
market values to the detriment of critical thinking and academic cooperation.
Even though a simplistic view should be avoided that could explain the increasing of market
values in institutions as directly implicated in an arguably increase in envy at the work place,
it undoubtedly provides a backdrop against which the phenomenon can be better
understood. However, rather than waiting for the circumstances to change and then address
the issue, we argue it is relevant for institutions to focus more on ways by which envy can
manifest itself so as to avoid it becoming a destructive force. Even though aspects relative to
institutional climate have been addressed under the institutional evaluation umbrella, the
extent to which envy at the work place seems to have detrimental effects on staff, including
faculty, and to the institution identity itself, and how to challenge its effects so as to counter its
influences has been a less studied dimension.

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Authors such as Hill and Buss (2006) claim there is a good side to envy in that they define it
as an emotion that functions to alert individuals to fitness-relevant advantages enjoyed by
rivals and to motivate individuals to acquire those same advantages (p. 131). In that line of
argument, envious people would arguably be motivated to improve their performance and
therefore envy should be faced as an asset. On the other hand, Menon and Thompson
(2010) claim that scant research has been spent in addressing envy at the workplace and its
dire consequences both on interpersonal and organizational levels. Their focus is on
motivation; negative self-thoughts; lower level of commitment; and self-promotion, as main
motives for people being envious of others. They analyze case studies in which envious top
performers have deteriorated into negative mind frames, severing professional relationships
and falling into two behavioral patterns: disparagement and distance.
Menon and Thompson (2010) highlight a salient point in that enviers have difficulty in
learning from and collaborating with other people. They point out that an institution in which
those people have the upper hand may value strangers to the detriment of internal peers. In
fact, Menon and Thompsons (2010) research showed that innovation strategies were more
valued by managers who believed such innovation came from external agents than by those
who were told those strategies were indeed originated in their own organizations. They
hypothesized that managers perceived themselves as enterprising when they adopted
outside ideas, whereas they shunned borrowing those from a colleague in that such an
attitude could arguably be legitimizing that person as an intellectual leader in their own
organizational milieu, a clear sign of envy at the workplace. As pointed out by Menon and
Thompson (2010, p. 4), this dislike of learning from inside rivals has a high organizational
price, in time, money and organizational competitive advantage.
Even though the referred authors focus on companies, those aspects pointed so far may be
adapted to HEI in which envy may be the predominant feature. For example, external
authors may be more salient in recommended bibliographies and in delivered lectures than
faculty members that produce work on the same issues. Likewise, Canen and Canen
(2008a,b) discuss how a negative institutional climate may deteriorate institutional
evaluation results. In fact, it seems that envy is likely to be generated when people act in
a way that tends to break the status quo. Therefore, tackling it seems to be crucial for
innovation, creative thinking and the ensuing flourishing of the organization.

Multicultural contributions towards managing envy in organizations

It should be noted that literature that addresses the issue of facing and preventing envy from
psychological and organizational perspectives are relevant even though they mainly focus
on psychological competencies and religious perspectives deemed necessary for enviers
to challenge their own feelings and become more positive people, apparently leaving aside
educational and cultural dimensions. We argue that such perspectives could be enriched by
other studies that could delve into HEI as an organization that may breed envy among its
faculty members, but also that could proactively prepare future leaders to positively deal
with it, through multiculturally oriented curricula in management education. Also, we contend


such perspectives could be reorganized under a multicultural framework that could better
provide ways to value diversity and challenge envy effects such as gossip, slandering, and
bullying in the workplace. In fact, we contend that developing multicultural sensitivities
towards building a multicultural organization could be a positive way in order to construct
such a framework.

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In order to achieve that, the main aspect of such a framework should arguably be the
presence of a multicultural leader. According to Thomas and Woodruff (1999), the role of
leaders in a multicultural environment should be that of responding effectively to diversity,
bearing in mind that institutional identity is forged in everyday policies and practices. A
multicultural perspective, according to authors such as Hickling-Hudson (2005) and Canen
and Peters (2005), should challenge stereotyping and other malicious effects of envy, by
promoting respect towards plurality of identities and behaviors and by ensuring that
collective objectives are pursued based on significant different individuals potentials. In
fact, identity building is central to a multicultural framework, not only the plural individual
cultural identities, but also collective and institutional or organizational ones. By valuing
plurality and building an organizational identity that reflects institutional values but also the
diversity of identities, multicultural leaders work towards a sense of belonging that is bound
to have positive organizational effects.
In fact, comparing the characteristics of an extreme monocultural leader and those of a
multicultural leader, Canen and Canen (2008a) show that a multicultural leader values
culturally diverse voices; handles tensions without letting them become real conflicts and
without losing control; proactively and retroactively works against bullying in the work place;
and creates channels so that excluded voices are heard and indeed included. On the other
hand, monocultural leaders let tensions increase; silence cultural diversity; reinforce
hegemonic voices; abuse others who think differently; and tend to condone bullying and
monocultural behaviors. In the same vein, Burke (2006) reflects on a bullying style of
leadership in which betrayal of personal trust and arrogance are among its main features,
leaving the field open to the ripening of envious attitudes in the workplace. As gleaned from
literature, trust seems to be positively associated with a multicultural leader, as claimed by
Canen and Canen (2008a), therefore providing the basis for an organizational climate that
mitigates the effects of envy.
In such a multicultural framework, values linked to inner organizational competition could be
replaced by institutional management turned towards the building of trust. Vidaillets (2006)
argument is relevant in that they show that management systems that stimulate the
performance of their employees and try to increase the competition among them may lead to
workplace envy, with highly destructive consequences both on the envied person and on the
functioning of organizations. Some psychological effects are also gleaned by the authors
from management attitudes such as permanent resorting to models; and promoting
comparisons among individuals, a style of management clearly aligned with what Canen
and Canen (2008a) named as a monocultural leadership style, as discussed earlier.
Another aspect detected in literature in the area refers to the issue of malicious slander and
gossip in institutions marred by envy. For example, Michleson et al. (2010), address key
themes surrounding the gossip triad: gossiper, listener/respondent, and target. The referred
authors tackle gossip as one of the consequences of envy, proposing gossip is intrinsic to
any organizational life and that it should be viewed beyond the personal level. In fact, their
study render that gossip can operate at the organizational level, playing a role in the
maintenance of groups, insomuch as it may be a way in which otherwise marginalized
individuals gain voice and power when they are the agents rather than the victims of such
gossip. Understanding that organizational dynamic may arguably help tackle it in
organizational life.
Authors such as Gholipour et al. (2011), on the other hand, interpret gossip from a social
constructive and post-modern point of view. In that line of thought, they contend that
managers could build on gossip in order to construct meaning of the reality where they are
inserted, having therefore access to multiple voices and perspectives by which to view


areas in which the organization should grow. However, even though they claim managers
could use gossip at their own advantage, it is clear from their research that trust is broken
when gossip and slander are the main means of communication at the organizational level,
confirming what Canen and Canen (2004) have contended as to the crucial role of trust in
organizations. Gholipour et al. (2011) end up recognizing that the long term result of
gossip, no matter positive or negative, is mistrust of the organization and management (. . .)
(p. 56).

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Some solutions to manage gossip are proposed by Gholipour et al. (2011), such as
strengthening trust; improving relations in the organization; cultivating a cooperative culture
rather than a competitive one; and providing transparency in information for all
organizational levels. Tomei and Belle (1997) argue that many organizations end up
supporting envy schemes, both in Brazil and in France, where their studies were carried out.
They suggest steps such as diminishing of hierarchical distinctions; and more participation
and empowerment of organizational subjects as possible ways to avoid disturbances and
the souring of organizational climate as a consequence of envy at the workplace. In another
vein, Hill and Buss (2006) suggest that in order to stop the downward spiral of envy, enviers
should be trained so as to pinpoint what makes them envious, therefore not focusing on
others but on their own selves in order to face and challenge their envious feelings. They
make the point that managers have to deal with envy directed not only to others, but to
themselves as well.
A multicultural framework to embed organizational climate should arguably provide
management with strategies that not only to mitigate but mainly avoid the effects of envy in
the workplace, contributing to enhance management competence. A crucial component
should be the presence of multicultural leaders that build on trust (Canen and Canen, 2004,
2008 a); cultivate a cooperative culture rather than a competitive one (Gholipour et al., 2011);
share power; reward people with responsibility and credit; give more of personal time to
hearing people; promote others; give enviers and their targets different spheres of influence,
so as not no invite direct comparisons between them, making sure their tasks are clearly
differentiated; encourage collaborative practices rather than individual responsibility for
innovation (Hill and Buss, 2006); ensure that collective objectives are pursued but also that
diversity of identities is valued (Canen and Canen, 2005, 2008a). The multicultural
framework therefore tries to integrate cultural diversity of identities in the individual/collective
level (namely the plurality of actors in terms of racial, ethnical, linguistic, gender oriented and
other identity markers) and the organizational/institutional ones (namely referring to the
positioning of those identities in the organizational structures and climate and to the
institutional/organizational values, vision and mission). Embedding curriculum of
management education in such a multicultural framework should provide the necessary
linkage between knowledge, technical competencies and multicultural sensitivities that
contextualize them in real life organizational situations where cultural diversity is paramount,
as illustrated by Canen and Canen (2010) in the case of international logistics course in a
multicultural perspective.
Therefore, we argue that embedding organizational structures and policies in a multicultural
framework, as well as underlying Higher Education curriculum directives and practices in
such a framework could help mitigate and indeed proactively avoid the devastating effects
of envy in the workplace, by multiculturally educating future leaders and by turning those
institutions into multicultural organizations (Canen and Canen, 2005), defined as those that
deal with cultural diversity and positively build a cultural institutional identity where trust is
the basic tenet (Canen and Canen, 2004).

Life narratives of organizational leaders: how to deal with envy at the workplace
Building on the above framework, the qualitative research developed in the present paper
has depicted the extent to which a multicultural model of leaders both in industrial and higher
education institutions has been perceived as relevant by top leaders in those organizations,
trying to glean how their personal narratives illustrate challenges in dealing with and
avoiding envy effects in institutions.


The first leader interviewed was a high executive of a top industrial organization (leader 1).
The second was a professor in the hard sciences area in a HEI (leader 2), and the third was a
professor in the soft sciences area in that HEI (leader 3).

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When asked on how they viewed envy in the organizations, all leaders confirmed its
existence, and all of them linked it to a competition dimension inherent in contemporary
organizations, as suggested by authors such as Gholipour et al. (2011). None of them
seemed to perceive any good point in envy, as opposed to Hill and Buss (2006). In fact, all of
them seemed to view envy as a destructive organizational force, as suggested by Menon
and Thompson (2010). At the same time, they pointed that the referred issue has been
neither recognized nor adequately faced by organizations, and all of them have posited that
their organizations have not been adequately prepared to deal with it. For example, by
delving into a case in which a faculty member had been marred by bullying, leader 2
evidenced the way in which the HEI dealt with it in a rather amateur way that not only
prevented a positive solution but indeed made the situation worse, evidencing the lack of
organizational training to tackle envy at the work place.
Leader 1 stressed that the envy issue has been avoided and indeed ignored at the top
management, including the organization administrative and fiscal councils, the directors
and the managers. However, he was positive in confirming the existence of envy both at
those and at the lower hierarchical levels, the differences being in the ways envy is
expressed and evidenced in the organizational discourses. According to the interviewee 1,
whilst at the lower hierarchical levels of the organization such a feeling is generally
expressed in objective words in the way of outbursts (i.e. so and so has been promoted
because they are always praising the directors whilst I am doing my work in a quiet but
competent way, and am thus discriminated against by my immediate superior boss . . . ), at
the highest ones they take an apparent technical twist (for instance, the target of envy may
be described by the envier as technically competent, but lacking in personal drive,
motivation, initiative, flexibility, and interpersonal communication skills . . . ) (from the
interview with leader 1, October 2011).
In a similar perspective, leader 2 referred to envy as a taboo subject in HEI institutions,
even more than in companies in general, where he felt such an issue is more openly
expressed. His perception was that in the academic environment that issue is more refined,
more dissimulated, and it tends to manifest itself when people compete with one another.
However, in the HEI scenario, leader 2 claimed that envy is more powerful in the high
echelons of HEI than in the lower ones, it gets mixed with competition . . . but people do not
use that taboo word, what they do is try to disqualify the others. It is interesting to note
how close such a discourse is to what leader 1 had said in the context of an industrial
organization, as related to high echelons of the organizations, particularly linking gossip and
slander directly to envy, as claimed by authors such as Michleson et al. (2010). In addition to
competition, leader 2 also perceived the role of technology in the envy phenomenon,
inasmuch as he pointed out that as a result of spending so much time in technological lonely
pursuits people have tended to interact less and therefore have lost touch with cooperative
and interrelational values.
In the same way as leaders 1 and 2, leader 3 also perceived envy as directly linked to a
competitive rather than collaborative climate that has arguably prevailed in HEI lately. He
explained the issue in a social, humanistic and historical perspective, perceiving it as
directly involved in a context in which
[. . .] the fall of the Berlin wall and of the URSS meant that the winning block was the one that
defended competition as the motor of development. In that sense, victory at any price is the
highest value to the detriment of humanism. Whoever wins receives a standing ovation,
regardless of values, illicit acts or other immoral acts: everything goes and the applause is
guaranteed to the winner [. . .] That also is the case in HEI, in which the quest for scientific
involvement has been dwindling [. . .], there is a relentless fight for resources [. . .]. That really
scares me because envy is a result of that continuing growing process that leads to competition
and to the abandoning of humanistic values [. . .] (from the interview with leader 3, October 2011).


When asked as to how envy deleterious effects could be avoided or at least diminished by
competent managers, some complementary perspectives could be noticed in the narratives
of the three leaders. In the case of leader 3, the emphasis of the approach would be on the
enviers themselves, in line with what Hill and Buss (2006) suggest. The role of religion and
political education has been perceived as crucial by that interviewee, as illustrated by the
following excerpt:
The religious effort is one path, it tends to show that envy is a sin and it therefore helps it
disappear within us. Another way is the political effort, through the participation in democratic
forums such as assemblies. In those opportunities, you may present a proposal that ends up
loosing and you learn to accept that the other person has won and even to defend that proposal,
even though in the beginning you were against it. Therefore [that political training] helps you
realize you are no better than the others. . .it is a continuing effort [against the onset of envy] . . .
(from interview with leader 3, October 2011).

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Whilst the focus of leader 3 was on the individual identities when thinking of a multicultural
framework as discussed earlier on, leaders 1 and 2, on the other hand, seemed to build on a
more organizational level of identities. In fact, that organizational dimension was particularly
noticeable in the expression used by leader 2, namely institutional envy. That aspect of
envy had been explained by him as one that goes beyond the personal level. He cited an
example in a department in the HEI had been slandered and disqualified by the institutional
leader of another organization in the process of building partnerships with other institutions.
Such an institutional envy would therefore be characterized by a process of gossiping and
slandering that attained the good name of a whole institution object of envy (from the
interview with leader 2, October 2011).
In the case of leader 1, the institutional/organizational perception was manifested both in the
way he perceived envy particularly during organizational evaluation processes and in the
role of organizational leaders in proactively avoiding it. In the case of the evaluation process,
it is interesting to point the straight link between the manifestation of envy and those
processes within the organizations. In fact, according to leader 1, the envy feeling normally
is made more explicit in opportunities where evaluation of performance is undertaken. In
those opportunities, in which an apparently technical vocabulary is employed, a real
campaign against individuals that are targets of envy is likely to occur, as it can be perceived
in the following excerpt:
Sometimes you can find a manager that evaluates well his subordinate in the evaluation form,
giving points as due, but then when it comes to the evaluative committee, he does not defend his
subordinate. Afterwards, he says to the person that it was the committee that did not evaluate
them well [. . .] (from the interview with leader 1, October 2011).

Such views lead to some dimensions mentioned in a multicultural perspective literature. For
example, the straight link between evaluation and an approach that challenges envy seems
to confirm the relevance of focusing on evaluation in transformative, multicultural
approaches, as claimed by Canen and Canen (2008b). In fact, by proposing auditing in a
multicultural perspective, the referred authors contend that evaluation of organizations
should take into account the extent to which the organizational climate fosters individuals to
boost their potentials and to increase values of cooperation. Also, as contended by Canen
and Canen (2008b), such a multicultural auditing could also glean how organizational
leaders deal with cultural diversity, in addition to technical competencies and financial
organizational results, therefore being a crucial dimension for organizational auditing.
Another issue refers to the organizational climate and to the role of leaders in ensuring a
positive environment in the work place. For example, when referring to coffee breaks and
happy hours as likely opportunities for gossips and slanders, both leaders 1 and 2 showed
the intertwinements of gossip and slander with the deteriorating of a multicultural
organizational climate. The expectation expressed by both of them was that the
organizational leader would not condone such gossip, as claimed by Canen and Canen
(2008a) when talking about a multicultural leader. Leader 1 also points to cultural shocks as
another motivator for envy, particularly when people from new generations are integrated in
companies where older generations have been dominating, with their own world views and


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less intimacy with technological tools, evidencing the need for multicultural training of
leaders to deal with that aspect. Trust, as contended by Canen and Canen (2004, 2008a)
has been highlighted by them when referring to the role of leaders. Narratives of leaders 1
and 2 illustrate well their opinions concerning those issues:
Leader 1: [. . .] The sole way for an organization to deal with the problem of envy is to have its high
administration people really committed to getting involved and indeed sponsoring the measures
to deal with it, otherwise nothing will be of any avail. It should be like the old battles, where the
leaders were in the forefront of the troops. The leader should have three characteristics:
credibility, trust, and a sense of pride and belonging in relation to the organizational values. For
example, he cannot say trust in me, he should generate the feeling of trust. If he says trust in
me, that does not exist. He should make people proud of working in the company, when he
speaks of it his eyes should beam! He also should have pleasure in working with that team, in that
organization, help and be helped [. . .] he should look at the organization as a whole, he should try
to make sure that the organizational policies are coherent with its values and that the team are
connected with those if that happens, there is no place for envy to show its claws [. . .] The
leader should be the sponsor of the whole process, and after that, in order for the positive results
to linger, they should really be integrated within the organizational culture, through working with
ethical committees, for example. External auditors that could provide coaching so as to help
organizational people to deal with those feelings is also important, because an external person
has experience of life and is more detached from the everyday working of the company, so they
can be of help [. . .] (from the interview with leader 1, October 2011).
Leader 2: Sometimes a leader has a kind of behavior in which he tries to take advantage of envy
and inner conflicts among those hierarchically below him so as to manipulate situations and stay
on top. That is truly wrong! [. . .] The real leader should strive to ensure harmony in the work place
[. . .] They should dialogue with people, maintain communication with them, counsel them in
situations so that they should not attract envy by not exposing themselves too much, for example
[. . .] however, most of the institutional leaders are focused solely on their personal careers [. . .]
The only way to counteract envy is when the leader makes everybody see that the goals of the
organization, of the higher education, are bigger than the people themselves! He should remind
everybody of that the whole time [. . .] A leader should foster motivation, they should propose
projects that demand a collective effort, group working towards goals, collective involvement [. . .]
all of this takes away the focus from envy, from gossip and from slandering (from the interview with
leader 2, October 2011).

Finally, the role of education and that of the HEI curriculum was stressed by all leaders,
reinforcing the need for HEI to rethink its curriculum in management education and other
related areas so as to prepare leaders to competently deal with envy; avoid its effects in the
organization; and turn it into a multicultural one. Some ideas proposed by them are worth
noting at this point:
Leader 1: Curriculum in HE could not have a discipline called envy, but rather some others that
should be mandatory, such as strategic people management, and studies of human
behaviour, and the like. Those should help, because envy really is a devastating force [. . .]
Leader 2: I think the main aspect is ethics. Curriculum should have something like Ethics in
Engineering, Ethics in Professional Education and Development and so on. That would help
students to be better prepared so that when they get into their working environment they know
that gossip is not the right thing, even if it is prevalent in that environment [. . .] they will know they
have to focus on their work, they will try to avoid mingling with gossip in the coffee break, they will
know they can avoid gossip even if the others in the company will start talking evil of them
because of that attitude [. . .]
Leader 3: Curriculum in any area of HEI should have the contribution of educators, even if they are
not specialists in specific areas, say, nuclear engineering, but they should bring philosophy and
humanities in the professional formation, and that includes arts. That is because arts is a good
way to convey the message that in arts one can build an alternative reality beyond that in which
one lives, and that makes the point that even the reality in which one lives is a constructed reality!
To be in touch with the idea of the beautiful, of a constructed reality changes mentalities [. . .] That
conveys the notion of the fragility of the constructed world, it helps students to construct and
deconstruct their views, and it gives the real dimension of human beings with all their smallness,
diminishing the propensity for envy [. . .] Apart from that, primary and secondary education are
crucial, and the actions of teachers towards helping the most fragile and nurturing that caring
climate are of paramount importance [. . .] (from the interview with leader 3, October 2010).


Therefore, from the life narratives, some perceptions of counteracting forces in relation to the
effects of envy in organizational climate could be noted, particularly highlighting the role of
leaders in dealing with it and the ensuing need for HEI curriculum to more strongly
incorporate disciplines that could better equip students to address that in their future
professional lives. Albeit in an indirect and implicit rather than explicit way, it seemed to be
clear that multicultural leaders (Canen and Canen, 2008a, 2010) are likely more apt to
understand organizations as multicultural environments, being more aware of collective
values and their intertwinement with cultural individual plural identities. Organizations should
be more prepared to deal with envy and the HEI curriculum should proactively give a strong
contribution towards that goal, by embedding more traditional syllabuses and evaluation
processes in ethical and multicultural perspectives.


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The present paper argued that working towards building multicultural organizations with
strong multicultural leadership can considerably diminish the effects of envious actions in
institutions. It firstly discussed literature in the area, contending that even though
psychological and organizational literature concerning envy are relevant to address the
issue, they arguably fall short of addressing HEIs as organizations that may not only breed
envy among faculty members, but also proactively work towards preparing future
professionals in a multicultural, positive and sensitive way as leaders able to competently
deal with envy in a proactive way. The paper therefore proposed that HEI curriculum could
be reorganized under a multicultural framework that could better provide ways to value
diversity and challenge envy effects such as gossip, slandering, and bullying in the
workplace. It stressed the role of multicultural sensitivities towards building a multicultural
organization as positive ways in order to construct such a framework.
By focusing on life narratives of leaders dealing with envy at the work place in academic and
non-academic organizations, aspects were detected that could be worked out in higher
education management education so as to instill multicultural sensitivities in professional
education and development. The role of leaders in enhancing organizational and collective
goals and promoting the valuing of plural institutional actors was particularly stressed as a
possible path towards minimizing envy at the work place, and the role of curriculum in HEI
and even of citizenship education in primary and secondary schooling cannot be stressed
Given the qualitative nature of its approach, it is an exploratory study aiming at providing
insights about envy in institutions and the relevance of working towards viewing them as
multicultural organizations as a way to counteract the breeding of that deleterious feeling,
not intended for any generalization.
Also, though a simplistic view should be avoided that could explain the increasing of market
values in academic and non-academic institutions as directly implicated in an arguably
increase in envy at the work place, such an aspect undoubtedly provides a backdrop
against which the phenomenon can be better understood. Data from the study seemed to
confirm the relevance for leaders to focus more on multicultural management education as a
proactive step to prepare professionals that detect and even avoid envious manifestations
so that they do not have detrimental effects in the organizations.
Apart from the moral aspect involved in the discussion, it seems clear that an organization in
which envy has its upper hand is negatively affected. In the case of both industrial and
higher education institutions where the interviewed leaders worked, it seemed to be clear
from their narratives that energy, productivity and capacity for innovation issues
increasingly addressed in institutional evaluation should be likely boosted in environments
where leaders competently deal proactively in a way that prevents envy to become a
destructive force. In order to achieve that, HEI has a high potential for contribution, by
preparing future professionals in broader, multicultural perspectives that better equip them
to become leaders for a better world.


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About the authors

Alberto G. Canen is a Professor in the Department of Production Engineeing at
COPPE/Federal University of Rio de Janeiro. He was formerly a Visiting Professor at the
University of Glasgow. Currently, he is the Vice-President of the International Centre for
Innovation and Industrial Logistics (ICIIL). He has been a Visiting Professor at the University
of Zagreb/Croatia and at Kaunas University of Technology/Lithuania. His main research
interests are on logistics/supply chain management with multicultural aspects. He has wide
experience of working in industrial organizations as well as being a consultant. Alberto G.
Canen is the corresponding author and can be contacted at:
Ana Canen is a Professor in the Department of Educational Studies at the Federal University
of Rio de Janeiro. She is a Researcher for the Brazilian Research Council (CNPq). Her
research interests have focused on comparative and multicultural education and institutional
evaluation. She has been widely publishing in Brazilian and international journals.

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