Cyberloafing: A Counterproductive Work Behavior
Among the wide range of counterproductive work behaviors, a largely understudied phenomenon involves the misuse of information and communications technologies (ICTs) within an organization (Weatherbee, 2010). Among the various forms of misuse is the act known as cyberloafing, also known as cyberslacking and cyberbludging (Weatherbee, 2010). After defining counterproductive work behavior and explaining some basic differentiations, the focus of this paper will be to explore the concept of cyberloafing, to investigate the varying impacts cyberloafing has on an organization, and to understand the attitudes and characteristics of its predictors. It is accepted that counterproductive work behavior can be described as any behavior that negatively affects the organization or any persons belonging to that organization. Also known as negative deviant workplace behavior, such conduct violates the organizational norms, policies or internal rules that govern the organization in such a way as to have at least the potential to harm either the well-being of the organization or its members, thereby excluding breaches of decorum such as poor manners and other social faux paus (Kelloway et al., 2010). There are a number of ways to conceptualize counterproductive behaviors, however it was not until an integrative view was proposed that much of what is understood and accepted about counterproductive work behavior came to be. Among that body of work, a common distinction is made between organizationally targeted deviance and interpersonally targeted deviance. As is currently accepted, these two “families” are used as distinctions of motivations, creating a way to categorize deviant behaviors. Greater distinctions are further made by Robinson and Bennett’s (1995) typology of workplace deviance, where deviant behavior varies along two dimensions, interpersonal versus organizational and minor versus serious (Appelbaum et al., 2007). Organizational deviance is directed at the organization by an individual involving such things as theft, sabotage, tardiness, or intentional lack of effort (Robinson & Bennett, 1995). Interpersonal deviance is directed at or between individuals at the workplace involving such things as making fun of others, rudeness, arguing and even physical aggression (Henle et al, 2005). Whether organizational or interpersonal targeting is taking place, each behavior within these groupings does vary in severity, ranging from minor to serious (Appelbaum et al., 2007). As the study of counterproductive work behavior continues to grow, there is an ever increasing need to understand the implications of counterproductive use of technology in the workplace. Specifically, the advent of the internet in the workplace has resulted in advantageous gain by increasing communication abilities and enhancing information acquisition, resulting in greater efficiency overall and decreased costs. However, the possibility for a deficit is palpable since the opportunity for its misuse is ever present (Lim & Thompson, 2005). Cyberloafing is known as the act of employees using the internet at the workplace, during work hours, for non-work related activities for the intent purpose of fulfilling personal needs (Lim & Thomson, 2005). Cyberloafing is tantamount to taking personal phone calls or making several trips to the water cooler for the latest gossip, however high-tech it is in methodology (enHenle & Blanchard, 2008). One survey found that, while at work, 90% of employees admitted to non-work related web-surfing and 84% said they engaged in personal email correspondence (Naughton et al, 1999). In 2000, a survey of employees found that 66% said they web-surfed anywhere from 10 minutes to one hour during an average work day (Vault.com 2000). Yet another survey indicated that US workers admitted to wasting an average of 2.09 hours during a typical eight hour workday on...
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