Dysfunctional Behaviour in Organisations

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Module 2 MN250/D
a) How organisation of work can contribute to dysfunctional behaviour.

Bennett and Robinson (2003), suggest that behaviour is deemed dysfunctional or deviant when an individual or a group violates an organisation’s norms, policies, or internal values, and threatens the welfare of the organisation or its constituents. Researchers into dysfunctional behaviour have come up with other alternative terms such as corrupt, counterproductive behaviour, deviance, antisocial, and unethical or anti-citizen behaviour (Speedy 2004). Pulich and Tourigny (2004), attempt to distinguish dysfunctional behaviour into two categories i.e. interpersonal workplace deviance and organisational deviance. Interpersonal deviance refers to both minor and serious harmful behaviours that target specific stakeholders such as clients and co-workers. Minor offences include political deviance such as gossiping about co-workers, blaming workmates instead of accepting one’s responsibility for failure, competing in a manner that does not benefit the organisation, and showing favouritism. While serious harmful behaviour refers to personal aggression such as physical abuse, stealing from work mates or clients and endangering colleagues by reckless or negligent practice.

On the other hand organisational deviance is defined as constituting of production and property deviance. Robinson et al (1995) states that production deviance is viewed as behaviour that violates organisational norms with respect to minimal quality and quantity of work to be accomplished as part of one job while the later refers to instances where employees either damage or acquire tangible assets from the organisation without authorisation. Symptoms of organisational deviance will include absenteeism and tardiness, unauthorised extended break and lunch times, excessive socialisation time, intrusion of personal problems into workplace, not following standard operating procedures and guidelines, waste of time and resources, and sabotage and theft. (Pulich and Tourigny 2004). Parallels can be seen in the 1994 report on the Postal Service labour-management relations concluded that there was “no clear framework or strategy” in place to convey the company values and principles down the line from management to supervisors and down to the workers.

Pulich and Tourigny (2004) further suggest that individuals, who display dysfunctional or deviant behaviour, often do so because they feel a sense of entitlement and a right to exploit others. A sense of entitlement will be reflected by one’s self-restraint in responding to other people or challenging situations. These people often feel justified when they deviate from organisational culture may be because of their seniority, expertise or previous accomplishments. This may be accompanied by a feeling a perception that others are not adequate or acceptable. Subsequently these employees frequently behave in a manner that displays anger and contempt and disrespectful of others. Appelbaum et al (2005), observes that a sense of entitlement is often associated with exploitation, that is, the right to take advantage of others for one’s personal benefit. The sense of entitlement is reflected in the US postal service report where there were attitudes by some supervisors that because they worked in the company for years, rising through the ranks and enduring difficulties (‘eating dirt’), therefore, new employees have to suffer the same feat.

Appelbaum et al (2006) suggested the operational environment has a major influence on how employees will behave on the job. His research shows that it is workplace environment conditions rather than individual personality characteristics that give rise to work place violence, a serious form of dysfunctional behaviour. Appelbaum et al. (2006) proclaims that even though individuals may uphold highest moral standards, the type of organisation one works for exerts a strong influence on their staff and may...
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