Deviance (Organizational Behaviour)

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In the past 10 years, more and more research has come to the forefront regarding organizational deviance. It is widely accepted that employee deviance has been increasing in recent years and the topic has become much more publicly discussed, especially in light of recent scandals such as Enron and WorldCom (Appelbaum et al., 2005, p. 43), and, most recently, with the mortgage crisis in the US economy. In addition, employee deviance has a large effect on the economy with some researchers estimating the financial cost of employee theft to be $50 billion in the US economy (Coffin, 2003) (Henle, 2005, p. 247). Furthermore, employees in today’s technologically advanced society are able to express deviance in new and modern ways such as “Cyberloafing” or workplace Internet deviance which some studies report can take up to 40% of an employee’s day (Zoghbi-Manrique de Lara, 2006, p. 581). These new forms of deviance affect an organization’s bottom line as it tries to control employee deviance through “preventative measures along the lines of tightening vigilance and strengthening supervision of their employees” in an ever-changing society (Zoghbi-Manrique de Lara, 2006, p. 581). The purpose of this paper is to provide a discussion of the current literature in organizational deviance with a focus on the primary causes of deviant behavior as a result of stress in the modern workplace. To accomplish this task, this article will provide a working definition of organizational deviant behavior including an overview of the causes of employee deviant behavior, as well as a framework for studying this phenomenon. Second, it will highlight the causes of increased workplace deviance in modern organizations through an in depth look at stress and its more recent causes; competition, empowerment, downsizing, technological change and work/home conflict as key influential causes of deviance progress in modern organizations. To conclude, there will be a short discussion of the recommendations and possible solutions to workplace deviance as well as suggestions for future research.

Organizational deviant behavior
According to Appelbaum et al. “The workplace is a forum where a variety of different behaviors are expressed, each with a different consequence to the individuals within the organization as well as the entire organization. These behaviors usually fall within the constructs of the norms of the organization. Organizational norms are a grouping of ‘expected behaviors, languages, principles and postulations that allow the workplace to perform at a suitable pace’ (Coccia, 1998)” (Appelbaum et al., 2007, p. 586). On the other hand, deviance refers to behavior that fails to conform to these organizational norms. It has been referred to as “workplace deviance (Bennett and Robinson, 2003), counterproductive behavior (Mangione and Quinn, 1975), and antisocial behavior (Giacolone and Greenberg, 1997)” (Appelbaum et al., 2007, p. 587). The most widely accepted definition of employee deviance is the one originally proposed by Robinson and Bennett (1995, p. 556) that states that employee deviance is “voluntary behavior that violates significant organizational norms and in doing so threatens the well-being of an organization, its members, or both.” It includes behavior such as stealing from the company, wasting resources, gossiping about co-workers, verbal abuse, putting little effort into work, and sabotage (Robinson & Bennett, 1995, p. 565). They also found that the behavior ranges on two dimensions from organizational (being harmful to the organization) to interpersonal (being harmful to individuals within the organization), and less severe to more severe behavior (p. 565). Although this typology is not supported by the study completed by Bolin and Heatherly (2001, p. 413), it still provides additional insight into the complexity of organizational deviant behavior and factors that must be considered when undergoing an...
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