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Anti-Citizenship Behavior, Employee Deviant Behavior, Organizational Misbehavior, Dysfunctional Organizational Behavior, and Counterproductive Work Behavior: A Review,

Synthesis and Research Suggestions

Mel E. Schnake, D.B.A. Department of Management Valdosta State University Valdosta, GA 31698 (229) 245-3822 mschnake@valdosta.edu

Anti-Citizenship Behavior, Employee Deviant Behavior, Organizational Misbehavior, Dysfunctional Organizational Behavior, and Counterproductive Work Behavior: A Review, Synthesis and Research Suggestions


Several different definitions and categorizations of dysfunctional behavior within organizations have been identified in the literature. Most of these are broad and include widely different types of dysfunctional behavior within a single category. This paper proposes a three-dimensional model of dysfunctional behavior, focusing on the organization and/or its members of targets of these behaviors. A more precise categorization scheme may lead to more accurate measures of these behaviors and serve to focus future research. Important measurement issues are also discussed.

Anti-Citizenship Behavior, Employee Deviant Behavior, Organizational Misbehavior, Dysfunctional Organizational Behavior, and Counterproductive Work Behavior: A Review, Synthesis and Research Suggestions Organizational science scholars have generally focused their theory and research on various categories of positive employee behavior, such as employee motivation and performance, organizational citizenship behavior, pro-social organizational behavior, and spontaneous performance. While various forms of negative employee behavior exist in organizations, they have received less theoretical and empirical attention, although recently this appears to be changing. Of course, some forms of what might be considered negative employee behavior have been studied in detail. These would include such behaviors as absenteeism, tardiness, turnover, unethical behavior and theft. The types of negative behavior which have not received much research attention include those which are often more subtle such as sabotage, vandalism, wasting organizational resources, passive aggression, and the like. Murphy

(1993) estimates that such negative employee behaviors cost U.S. businesses between $6 and $200 billion annually. Harper (1990) found that between 33 and 75 percent of all employees have engaged in some form of negative organizational behavior, including theft, sabotage, and vandalism. Clearly, whatever the term chosen for these behaviors, negative employee behaviors are not uncommon and may take a variety of forms. A single classification scheme which covers them all may prove to be unwieldy. Further, a single model may not be appropriate for all forms of negative employee behavior because of different sets of antecedents and outcomes. However, some form of synthesis at this stage in the research seems appropriate. The purpose of this paper is to review the existing theory and empirical evidence on the various types of negative employee behaviors which have been identified to date,

synthesize these ideas to provide a coherent framework to guide future research, consider methodological issues inherent in studying these types of behaviors, and provide suggestions for future research in this area. Types of Negative Employee Behaviors Robinson and Bennett (2001, p. 556) define employee deviance as voluntary behavior that violates significant organizational norms and in so doing threatens the wellbeing of an organization, its members, or both. They distinguish between employee deviance and unethical behavior in that deviance focuses on behaviors which violate organizational norms, while unethical behavior focuses on behaviors which violate societal values and laws. However, they note that a behavior could be both deviant and unethical. Robinson and Bennett (2001) developed a two-dimensional typology (minor vs. serious and interpersonal vs. organizational) of deviant workplace behaviors. Thus, workplace deviance falls into one of four categories: production deviance (minor organizational deviance including leaving early, taking excessive breaks, wasting resources, intentionally working slowly), property deviance (serious organizational deviance including sabotaging equipment, lying about hours worked, stealing from organization), political deviance (minor interpersonal deviance including gossiping about co-workers, blaming co-workers), and personal aggression (serious interpersonal deviance including verbal abuse, endangering co-workers). However, this scheme appears to ignore deviant or dysfunctional behaviors directed at organizational outsiders, such as customers. Yet, the list of specific behaviors which Robinson and Bennett (2001) used to develop their taxonomy clearly includes such behaviors (e.g., an employee verbally abusing customers, an employee physically abusing a customer, an employee stealing a customers possessions). Giacalone and Greenberg (1997) define antisocial behavior as behavior that causes harm or is intended to cause harm to an organization, its employees, or its

stakeholders. Examples of antisocial behavior include arson, blackmail, bribery, discrimination, espionage, extortion, fraud, interpersonal violence, kickbacks, lying, sabotage, theft, and violations of confidentiality. This definition incorporates behaviors aimed at both organizational insiders and outsiders, as well as behaviors which cause harm to individuals and the organization. Griffin, OLeary-Kelly and Collins (1998, p. 67) define dysfunctional organizational behavior as motivated behavior by an employee or group of employees that has negative consequences for an individual within the organization, a group of individuals within the organization, and/or the organization itself. They point out that distinguishes their conceptualizations from others such as antisocial behavior and workplace deviance is intentionality. That is, the actor must intend that the act be harmful to an individual or group within the organization and/or the organization itself. This framework permits the same behavior to be functional or dysfunctional, depending on intent. Their framework results in two general categories: whether the behavior directly harms individuals/groups (i.e., human welfare), or whether it harms the organization. It is clear that many dysfunctional behaviors may ultimately harm both individuals and the organization; however, the emphasis in this classification scheme is on the direct costs. Drug abuse on the job, for example, harms both the individual employee and the organization, but it is the individual employee who incurs the greatest and most direct harm. Dysfunctional behaviors which harm individuals or groups is then further subdivided into two categories: behaviors that harm others, and behaviors that harm oneself. Examples of the former category include sexual harassment and physical violence, and examples of the latter category include drug abuse, unsafe work practices and suicide. Behaviors which harm the organization are also subdivided into: behaviors that have specific costs (such as inappropriate absenteeism, theft, destruction of company property) and behaviors that have general costs (such as dysfunctional

political behaviors, dysfunctional impression management behaviors, and intentional sub-optimal performance). Behaviors which harm organizational outsiders are ignored in this framework. This is a very broad framework, perhaps too broad to guide research. Further, dividing lines between these broad categories are blurred. For example, some behaviors, such as unsafe work practices, may fall into more than one category. Finally, the framework results in imprecise categorizations such that smoking and suicide are included in a category with behaviors intended to harm the organization or its members. Spector and Fox (in press) note the parallels between counterproductive work behavior (CWB) and organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) and create a model based on work place emotions to partially explain both types of voluntary behavior. CWB is defined as behavior intended to hurt the organization or its employees. OCB is voluntary, extra-role behavior, aimed at individuals or the organization, which benefits the organization (Organ, 1988). CWB is a broad category including such behaviors as avoiding tasks, verbal hostility, physical aggression, sabotage, theft, and intentionally doing tasks incorrectly. Spector and Fox (in press) present a model which suggests that positive emotions (e.g., positive mood) result in positive voluntary behaviors such as OCB, while negative emotions (i.e., anger, frustration) result in negative voluntary behaviors such as CWB. This approach ignores behaviors which harm organizational outsiders. Vardi and Wiener (1996, p. 151) define organizational misbehavior (OMB) as any intentional action by members of organizations that violates core organizational and/or societal norms. They distinguish between three types of OMB: Type S which is misbehavior which is intended to benefit oneself, Type O which is misbehavior intended to benefit the organization, and Type D which is misbehavior intended to inflict damage. Similar to Griffin, OLeary-Kelly and Collins (1998), employee intent is an important part

of this definition. However, behaviors which are consistent with organizational values but inconsistent with societal values (e.g., lying to customers) are considered OMB, as are behaviors consistent with societal values but inconsistent with organizational values (e.g., whistle-blowing). This approach includes most types of harmful behaviors; both those that harm organizational insiders and outsiders as well as those which harm individuals and those that harm the organization. Other terms describing similar negative employee behaviors include organizational aggression (Spector, 1978; Neuman & Baron, 1998), retaliation (Skarlicki & Folger, 1997) and revenge (Bies, Tripp & Kramer, 1997), workplace incivility (Andersson & Pearson, 1999). Table 1 provides a summary of definitions for these various types of negative behaviors. Table 1 Definitions

Robinson & Bennett, 1995

Employee Deviance

Voluntary behavior that violates significant organizational norms and in so doing threatens the well-being of an organization, its members, or both. Negative behaviors in organizations which are harmful or have the potential to cause harm to individuals and/or the property of an organization. Any intentional action by members of organizations that violates core organizational and/or societal norms.

Giacalone & Greenberg, 1997

Antisocial Behavior

Vardi & Wiener, 1996

Organizational Misbehavior

Spector & Fox, in press

Counterproductive Work Behavior Behavior intended to hurt the organization or other members of the organization. Dysfunction Work Behavior Motivated behavior by an employee or group of employees that has negative consequences for an individual within the organiza-

Griffin, OLeary-Kelly, & Collins, 1998

tion, a group of individuals within the organization, and/or the organization itself. Spector, 1978 Skarlicki & Folger, 1997 Bies, Tripp & Kramer, 1997 Puffer, 1987 Andersson & Pearson, 1999 Organization Aggression Retaliation Revenge Noncompliant Behavior Workplace Incivility Breaking rules or norms.

Low intensity deviant behavior with ambiguous intent to harm the target. (Behavior characterized by rudeness and disregard for others. ______________________________________________________________________________________

These definitions are all relatively broad and include most deviant or negative behaviors from gossip or withholding effort to verbal abuse and sabotaging organizational property. Both legal and illegal behaviors are included in most of these definitions, as are behaviors which violate organizational norms or policies, and those which do not violate organizational policies, but inflict harm on others within the organization. Behaviors aimed at various targets, such as organizational members and organizational outsiders are also included in many of these definitions. What is needed is a framework which categorizes these various forms of negative behaviors so that research efforts can be more clearly focused. Antecedents of Dysfunctional Behaviors Few studies address antecedents of dysfunctional behaviors, perhaps in part due to the lack of clarity of the construct itself. Further, studies which have examined antecedents have generally focused on a limited range of these behaviors. In a study examining both prosocial and noncompliant behavior, Puffer (1987) found noncompliant behavior to be inversely related to need for achievement and confidence in management Noncompliant behavior was a relatively broad construct

including being late and taking excessive breaks, complaining about the company or coworkers, violating rules, making unrealistic promised to customers, and failing to do ones fair share. These behaviors include those which harm the organization and individuals within the organization, as well as those external to the organization. Thus, this one measure of noncompliant behavior extends across several categories of dysfunctional behavior developed by other authors. Spector, and Fox (in press) develop a conceptual argument identifying negative emotion as an antecedent to counterproductive work behavior (CWB). CWB is behavior intended to hurt the organization or its employees, and therefore excludes behaviors which harm organizational outsiders. Spector and Fox (in press) argue that an individuals appraisal of a situation is influenced by personality traits such as trait anger, anxiety, locus of control and delinquency and his/her emotional state. Emotional state results in a readiness to engage in CWB; individual differences and environmental/situational factors also influence actual behavior. In other words, negative emotion makes CWB more likely, however, whether it actually occurs also depends on situational circumstances (e.g., opportunity). Kidwell and Bennett (2001) examined several organizational contextual antecedents of employee job neglect. Job neglect was operationalized as various forms of shirking or withholding effort, including daydreaming, attending to personal business on company time, putting forth less effort than the employee knew he or she could, taking longer breaks than allowed and calling in sick when not sick. They found employee perceived job neglect to be negatively related to group cohesion, job satisfaction, organizational, commitment, supervisor consideration, and altruism within the group. It is important to note that this measure of job neglect emphasized behaviors which harm primarily the organization.

Construct Clarity One step toward achieving construct clarity is to distinguish between behaviors which occur within the organization (i.e., those which harm the organization or its members), and those which affect organizational outsiders. Robinson and Bennett (2001) provide a starting point for a categorization scheme. Using two broad categories, whether the behavior violates societys norms, and whether the behavior violates organizational norms, creates four relatively general categories. Behaviors which are compatible with both social norms and organizational norms are clearly productive and positive behaviors, and would include both in-role job performance and extra-role performance (i.e., organizational citizenship behaviors). Behaviors which violate social norms but which are compatible with organizational norms would include both illegal and unethical behaviors viewed inappropriate by society, but somehow condoned or even encourage by the organization. Behaviors, such as over-charging customers, shipping defective products, or sexual harassment or discrimination may become part of an organizations culture and be subtly encouraged. Behaviors which are compatible with social norms, but which violate organizational norms are dysfunctional only within the organization. Examples of such behaviors include passive aggression actions such as withholding effort, and whistle-blowing. Behaviors which are incompatible with both social norms and organizational norms are generally extreme and blatantly illegal actions such as theft and even murder in the workplace. Many of these dysfunctional behaviors may be harmful to the organization, while others harm individuals. Thus, a third dimension, the target of the act, is required to more fully delineate between various behaviors. Table 2 illustrates this 2 x 2 x 2 classification scheme. Further, many of the behaviors in each of these four categories

may be aimed at organizational insiders or organizational outsiders. Thus, separate models may be developed for organizational members versus organizational outsiders. The model proposed here focuses on the organization and individual members or insiders.
Table 3

3D Model of Dysfunctional Behavior Within Organizations

The bottom two boxes at the right in Table 3 which have received the least research attention. Behaviors which are incompatible with both social norms and organizational norms targeted at individuals include theft of personal property, character assassination, spreading rumors or gossip, and verbal or physical assault. Behaviors incompatible with both social norms and organizational norms targeted at an organization include theft or misuse of organizational property, sabotage, starting negative rumors about the company, following organizational rules to the letter in order to intentionally slow down or harm the work process, intentionally making errors, and coming to work late or leaving work early.

Discussion This paper proposes a three-dimensional categorization scheme or model of dysfunctional behavior within organizations, focusing on the organization and its individual members as targets of the behavior. It is hoped that a more precise model of dysfunctional behavior in organizations will focus research efforts and improve measurement. Studies attempting to measure relatively broad categories of behaviors, (for example including behaviors aimed at the organization, individual employees and customers in the same category) may result in imprecise measures of these phenomena. These categories might be more precisely defined by incorporating the intent of the actor. Although difficult to assess, the actors motive in committing the dysfunctional behavior may lead to a deeper understanding of the act. For example, taking excessive breaks motivated by a desire to harm the organization is a different act than taking excessive breaks due to a physical problem or stress. While it is hoped that a more precise model of dysfunctional behavior in organizations will lead to more precise measurement, several measurement issues must be addressed. The most basic issue is who rates these behaviors; immediate supervisors, the actors themselves, or some other observer. Some of these behaviors may be difficult to observe, however, there are obvious problems associated with selfratings of these kinds of behaviors. Another possibility is a policy capturing approach where respondents are presented with a scenario describing conditions in the work place and then are asked to rate the likelihood of some hypothetical employee engaging in several acts (the dysfunctional behaviors).

Much work remains to be done in this area of organizational research. However, the first step is to clean up the construct. We must more clearly define its boundaries and subcategories, and then develop more precise measures of these phenomena.

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