Workplace Deviance, Organizational Citizenship Behavior, and Business Unit Performance: the Bad Apples Do Spoil the Whole Barrel

Topics: Organizational citizenship behavior, Job performance, Behavior Pages: 30 (8162 words) Published: October 28, 2012
Journal of Organizational Behavior
J. Organiz. Behav. 25, 67–80 (2004)
Published online in Wiley InterScience ( DOI: 10.1002/job.243

Workplace deviance, organizational
citizenship behavior, and business unit
performance: the bad apples do spoil the
whole barrel


School of Psychology, University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia, Australia Department of Psychology, University of Calgary, Calgary, Alberta, Canada

The influences of organizational citizenship behavior (OCB) and workplace deviant behavior (WDB) on business unit performance were investigated using data from branches of a fast food organization. Data included measures of WDB and OCB obtained from staff, ratings of performance provided by supervisors, and objective measures of performance. It was found that WDB was negatively and significantly associated with business unit performance measured both subjectively and objectively. OCB, however, failed to contribute to the prediction of business unit performance beyond the level that was achieved by WDB. It appeared, therefore, that the presence of deviant employees among business units impinges upon the performance of the business unit as a whole, whereas OCBs had comparatively little effect. Copyright # 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

While there has been much contention over the precise definition of the performance criterion, in recent years researchers have come to accept that performance is best defined as being a function of employees’ workplace behaviors (e.g., Borman & Motowidlo, 1993; Campbell, McHenry, & Wise, 1990). Rotundo and Sackett (2002), for example, defined performance as ‘those actions and behaviors that are under the control of the individual and contribute to the goals of the organization’ (p. 66). A recent review of the job performance literature indicates that there are three distinct components of work behaviors in the job performance sphere. They have been identified as task performance, organizational citizenship behavior (OCB), and workplace deviant behavior (WDB) (see Rotundo & Sackett, 2002, for a review). Of these, task performance has long been recognized by researchers as the most important aspect of work behaviors, and has sometimes been regarded as being

* Correspondence to: Patrick D. Dunlop, School of Psychology, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Crawley, Western Australia 6009, Australia. E-mail:

Copyright # 2004 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

Received 3 January 2003
Revised 17 March 2003
Accepted 18 September 2003



synonymous with overall job performance. The importance of the two non-task behaviors (OCB and WDB) in determining overall job performance, however, has also been well documented in the literature. For example, Motowidlo and Van Scotter (1994) found that OCB plays as important a role as task performance does in determining employee’s overall job performance. Similar findings were reported recently by Rotundo and Sackett (2002) with respect to WDB.

The two types of work behaviors that do not directly contribute to the technical core of the job figure prominently in determining overall job performance at the individual level. What is not clear, however, is whether there will be an isomorphic transfer of these relationships to the business unit level. The present research was conducted to shed some light on this issue by investigating the extent to which the prevalence of OCB and WDB within a business unit is related to the overall functioning of that business unit. Given that members within a business unit should interact at varying levels of interdependency in order to achieve common objectives (Salas, Dickinson, Converse, & Tannenbaum, 1992), and the implications that OCB and WDB may have to social surroundings in which core task activities should occur (e.g., Robinson &...
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