Obesity is a condition affecting billions of people around the world. Its societal, psychological, and health outcomes have been well documented across multiple disciplines. Moreover, obesity leads to serious workplace outcomes for the organization, the obese individual, and the coworkers working around the obese employee. With this multi-chapter dissertation, I review the literature on the workplace consequences of obesity and extend one potentially fruitful area within this literature base: obesity's impact on a proximal employee. Chapter 1 reviews the workplace consequences associated with obesity. The purpose is to evaluate and integrate this multidisciplinary literature so that management scholars can take up the study of obesity. Although a limited amount of work is being done in management, this work is stagnant and ignoring the larger body of literature from other areas. Addressing this weakness, this chapter accomplishes three goals. First, it reviews the empirical literature and conceptual foundations that have examined the workplace consequences of obesity. Second, it develops an integrated conceptual model of obesity's impact on workplace outcomes, with particular attention to the processes by which obesity is associated with these outcomes. Third, it presents key unanswered questions and directions for future research. Chapter 2 explores a new target for the impact of obesity, the non-obese coworker working around the obese employee. This chapter considers how an employee's obesity can affect a proximal coworker's job performance. To do so, it considers the three people: an observer (Person A), an obese employee (Person B), and a non-obese coworker (Person C). To date, the main theoretical framework has only considered ratings in the mind of an observer (Person A) and how the negative attitudes associated with obesity (Person B) can spill over onto a proximal worker (Person C). This leads an observer (Person A) to rate the coworker's (Person C) performance more negatively than a coworker not working around an obese employee (Person B). However, beyond the impact of obesity on the subjective evaluations by an observer (Person A), there is reason to believe that the non-obese employee (Person C) may be impacted in such a way to affect actual job performance. Accordingly, I competitively test three theoretical perspectives that may explain the processes by which a coworker's obesity (Person B) may impact a proximal coworker's (Person C) job performance. One of these perspectives (stereotype activation theory), receives consistent support across samples. Chapter 3 presents a concluding discussion. I consider lessons learned from Chapter 2 and integrate these with the literature reviewed in Chapter 1.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Business Administration
Business Administration; Management
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Johnson, Michael, "The Workplace Consequences of Obesity: Impacts on the Organization, the Employee, and the Proximal Coworker" (2017). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 5464.