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2007/08/11

Managing Organizational Deviance

Linking: Managing Organizational Deviance
Editors: Roland E., Jr. Kidwell and Christopher L. (Lee) Martin
Paperback: 376 pages
Publisher: Sage Publications, Inc (December 3, 2004)
ISBN-10: 0761930140
Book Review:


It is an unfortunate reality that organizations must face workplace deviance. Many types of employee misbehavior occur daily, ranging from minor infractions (e.g., tardiness) to dangerous and destructive acts (e.g., shootings). These transgressions have a negative impact not only on employers and employees, but also on the public. It is imperative, then, that firms confront workplace deviance in an attempt to understand and address it. 

The book of chapters and cases compiled by Kidwell and Martin provides an excellent overview of the variety of deviant behaviors that can and do occur at work, along with many suggestions for how to address these nefarious but common workplace occurrences.  Contributions from 29 scholars in the field offer theoretical and practical direction for researchers and practitioners alike. The chapters cover an impressive range of behaviors, and each chapter ends with at least one case designed to encourage learning and thinking about the material.  These cases allow teachers, students, and managers to understand the ethical implications of deviant work behaviors. The preface of the text provides both a guide to each chapter and an overview of how to analyze the cases.

Chapter 1 of Kidwell and Martin’s book,“The Prevalence (and Ambiguity) of Deviant Behavior at Work: An Overview,” is written by the editors and begins with a broad summary of deviant behaviors, including definitions, antecedents, and a discussion of the ambiguity of these behaviors. Two tables provide overviews of the numerous terms and definitions, as well as examples of the ambiguity of deviant behaviors. 

Chapter 2, “Why Good Employees Make Unethical Decisions: The Role of Reward Systems, Organizational Culture, and Managerial Oversight,” is written by Jennifer Dunn and Maurice E. Schweitzer. This chapter focuses on ethical dilemmas and provides a model of ethical decision making focused on the role of managers and their impact on ethical employee behaviors.  Three methods by which managers can promote ethical behavior within their firms are presented. The first of these tools is the use of reward systems. The authors discuss ways that managers can prevent potential problems of incentive systems that promote inappropriate rather than desired behaviors.
Developing a strong ethical organizational culture is the second tool presented. Plausible pitfalls that can unintentionally lead to the creation of an unethical organizational culture are proposed. Finally, monitoring systems are discussed, as well as the delicate balance between managerial oversight and employee trust.
Linda Klebe Treviño and Michael E. 

Brown are the authors of Chapter 3, “The Role of Leaders in Influencing Unethical Behavior in the Workplace.” This chapter also focuses on ethical decision making but delves more into the theoretical reasons for leaders’ impact on followers’ work behaviors.  The leadership literature is reviewed, and several avenues for future research are presented.

The next several chapters highlight specific deviant work behaviors. Chapter 4,“Badmouthing the Company: Bitter Employee or Concerned Corporate Citizen?” written by Robert J. Bies and Thomas M.  Tripp, discusses revenge as a provoked workplace act that can take many forms. While revenge can be destructive, the authors argue that too often, scholars have tried to assess the individual predictors of revenge rather than the numerous environmental triggers.  Using a stakeholder’s perspective, the authors define and describe revenge, present research findings on this construct, discuss the consequences of the act, and present ways to understand the environmental motivations behind revenge.

Chapter 5, “Withholding Effort at Work: Understanding and Preventing Shirking, Job Neglect, Social Loafing, and Free Riding,” is written by Nathan Bennett and Stefanie E.  Naumann. This chapter contains a good discussion of four different withholding behaviors, as well as some of the reasons that employees deny effort at work. They also discuss the difficulties managers may have in diagnosing these deviant actions. The authors then present several ways that supervisors can address withholding behaviors once identified, including the style of supervision (to monitor or not monitor), job design, incentive systems, and how employees are selected.

Chapter 6, “Managing Noncompliance in the Workplace,” written by Danielle E.  Warren, provides good descriptions of four types of noncompliant work behaviors: ignorance about rules, ignorance about rule application, opportunistic noncompliance, and principled noncompliance. Each behavior is discussed in detail, and the same basic example is used to illustrate each type of misbehavior, allowing for comparison across actions.  Moreover, the author discusses strategies for managing the specific behavior, causes for each action, ways to educate employees about the misbehavior, and potential sanctions for controlling the behaviors. 

In the next chapter, “The Difficulties of Telling the Truth at Work".  Steven L. Grover tackles the thorny issue of lying at work. This is an interesting chapter that addresses such questions as why people lie, can we tell whether or not someone is lying, and can organizations do anything about it. Grover discusses a number of theories and empirical studies that challenge how we think about lying and argues we might be better off trying to understand dishonesty rather than eliminating it.

Gina Vega and Debra R. Comer are the authors of Chapter 8, “Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace.” The authors do a nice job of discussing the distinction between sexual harassment and offensive nonsexual bullying. Comparisons between the United States and other countries offer a glimpse at the differences in how bullying is handled worldwide. Interestingly, while the United States has made strides in addressing sexual harassment, little has been done to address bullying. In contrast, several European nations have explicit legal sanctions against bullying. The authors offer some suggestions for keeping bullying under control and even discuss the ethics of bullying and when it might be “a good thing.”

Chapter 9, “Discouraging Employee: Theft by Managing Social Norms and Promoting Organizational Justice,” first describes three traditional nonsocial approaches to addressing employee theft (security, individual differences, and psychopathology orientations) and discusses the limitations of these orientations. The authors, Edward C. Tomlinson and Jerald Greenberg, present the social influence approach (influence of managers and influence of group norms) and contrast it with traditional approaches. The authors then discuss how employee theft may be a response to feelings of injustice. Organizational justice is reviewed, and social-based strategies are discussed for managing employee theft, such as the role of managers, the use of codes of ethical conduct, corporate hotlines, and rotating group membership.

The next chapter, “Managing Organizational Aggression,” by Mark J. Martinko, Scott C. Douglas, Paul Harvey, and Charles Joseph, delves into violent behaviors that can occur at work. Workplace aggression is described, and the authors present a model of organizational aggression. The chapter ends with numerous prevention strategies (such as policy-level interventions, selection procedures, and attributional training) for managing aggression in the workplace. 

Chapter 11, “Addictive Behavior in the Workplace,” written by Paul M. Roman, takes an interesting look at addictive behaviors beyond alcoholism and drugs, even including a discussion of an often-ignored addiction—“ workaholism!” Roman discusses models of the addictive concept; societal histories of alcohol, drugs, and gambling; and some intervention strategies that might be employed by organizations, including some essential components that employee assistance programs (EAPs) should utilize to be effective in dealing with addictions.

Chapter 12, written by Rebecca J. Bennett, Stefan Thau, and Jay Scouten, deals with entitlements and employee deviance in family businesses. In this chapter, “‘I Deserve More Because My Name Is on the Door’: Entitlement, Embeddedness, and Employee Deviance in the Family Business,” some of the reasons why more than “85% of family-run companies do not survive to the third generation” are discussed, suggesting that family members sometimes take advantage of and selfishly exploit their family businesses. The authors review a sociobiology perspective for understanding family ties and offer some suggestions for managing deviance within a family business.

The final chapter, “Organizational Deviance and Culture: Oversights and Intentions,” by Linda Thorne and Joanne Jones, addresses some of the seemingly trivial misbehaviors, such as tardiness, that potentially have a huge impact in shaping the culture.  Reviewing some of the cultural dimensions that exist in the literature, Thorne and Jones discuss deviant behavior within that dimension and its meaning if a culture possesses that dimension.

Overall, I enjoyed this book and recommend it to practitioners and researchers alike. The information contained in each chapter is interesting, useful, and covers a wide range of issues. The book includes many suggestions for future research and for classroom instruction, and the cases after each chapter include useful information for teaching ethics, human resources, or organizational behavior. For practitioners, the cases provide a forum for understanding the most common workplace deviance issues, and the chapters offer practical applications for dealing with those behaviors.


~Cited from Johnson, Diane E.. Human Resource Management, Fall2006, Vol. 45 Issue 3, p503-505.



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