Workplace Exclusion: The Return of Steve
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Predicting someone’s propensity to morally disengage (IO Psychology)
Topic: Assessment, Personality, Ethics, Counter-Productive Work Behavior, Workplace Deviance
Publication: Personnel Psychology (SPRING 2012)
Article: Why employees do bad things: Moral disengagement and unethical organizational behavior
Authors: Celia Moore, James R. Detert, Linda Klebe Treviño, Vicki L. Baker, & David M. Mayer
Reviewed by: Alexandra Rechlin
Organizations obviously want their employees to be ethical. While there are existing measures that are used to predict who will act immorally, the authors of this paper proposed a new construct that they called an individual’s propensity to morally disengage – an individual difference in how people think about ethical decisions and behavior that allows them to act unethically without feeling bad about it.
Celia Moore and her colleagues developed a measure of an individual’s propensity to morally disengage. In a series of studies, they then validated the measure for working adults by showing that the propensity to morally disengage was positively related to unethical behavior after accounting for a number of other related traits, orientations, and emotions. Predicted outcomes included self-, supervisor-, and coworker-reported unethical behavior, decisions to commit fraud, and self-serving decisions in the workplace.
You may be wondering how this paper is relevant to practitioners. This new measure of the propensity to morally disengage predicts unethical behavior, and it is short – it only includes eight items. While it has yet to be validated for employee selection, this measure certainly shows promise for its ability to predict unethical behavior. The authors also found that this measure had a low correlation with social desirability, so it seems to be fairly resistant to test-takers faking their responses to receive a good score. If your organization is using a lengthy integrity test in the selection process for the sole purpose of predicting those who would conduct unethical behavior, then this new measure may be something your organization might want to consider using instead.
Moore, C., Detert, J. R., Treviño, L. K., Baker, V. L., & Mayer, D. M. (2012). Why employees do bad things: Moral disengagement and unethical organizational behavior. Personnel Psychology, 65, 1-48. doi: 10.1111/j.1744-6570.2011.01237.x
human resource management, organizational industrial psychology, organizational management
A Bad Boss Can Ruin Your Marriage
Topic: Conflict, Stress, Work-Life Balance, Workplace Deviance
Publication: Personnel Psychology
Article: The Fallout from Abusive Supervision: An Examination of Subordinates and Their Partners
Authors: Carson, D. S., Ferguson, M., Perrewé, P. L., & Whitten, D.
Reviewed By: Katie Bachman
Maybe this can be filed in the “Well, Duh” folder, but new research has shown that bad bosses can mess up your relationships at home. “What?,” you say, “stress from work means that I’m not my best at home?!” Yeah. If you are one of the unfortunate people to have an emotionally abusive supervisor (one that gets mad at you for no reason, belittles you in front of people, etc.), you can end up taking that stress home with you in the form of work-family conflict. To make matters worse, that conflict that you’re experiencing affects your spouse or significant other and makes them tense. Then, the snowball gets a little speed from your partner’s tension by affecting important family outcomes (like staying together). Bottom line: an abusive supervisor isn’t just a pain at work for you – you end up taking that negativity home with you, which hurts your family.
Bad bosses exist, so is there anything we, the supervised, can do about it? The authors of this article say that organizations and human resource departments should do what they can to stamp out abusive supervision (easy-peasy, right?). Beyond that, on the front lines, I think the best you can do is try to keep work and home stress separated. There’s no quick fix for this problem, but maybe just knowing that bad supervision spills over into your family’s lives can help you keep from passing on the bad mojo.
Is Bad Behavior from an Employee the Consequence of an Unfulfilled Organizational Promise?
Topic: Counter-Productive Work Behavior, Fairness, Trust, Workplace Deviance
Publication: Journal of Business and Psychology (WINTER 2010)
Article: Psychological contracts and counterproductive work behaviors: employee responses to transactional and relational breach
Authors: J.M. Jensen, R.A. Opland, and A.M. Ryan
Reviewed By: Allison B. Siminovsky
Counterproductive work behaviors (CWBs) are those actions undertaken by the employee that are detrimental to the overall work environment. The reasons for engaging in such behaviors and the means of expressing them differ from situation to situation, and as a result it can be difficult for organizations to pinpoint exactly what the causes of CWBs may be. This article seeks to find antecedents for CWBs in organizational breaches of the psychological contract, or the employee’s inherent expectations about how the reciprocal relationship between employer and employee ought to be. In other words, does deviant workplace behavior result from perceived organizational injustices and mistreatment?
The current study examines the possibility of numerous types of CWBs occurring as the result of a perceived breach of the psychological contract and achieved several significant findings. For example, it was found that when employees are moved to retaliate to feeling a lost sense of their employers caring about them, they are most likely to engage in abuse behaviors, which include threatening and undermining one’s co-workers.
Dealing With An Abusive Supervisor? Will Distributive Justice Help? Nope…It Will Make It Worse!!
Topics: Workplace Deviance
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (NOV 2010)
Article: Self-Gain or Self-Regulation Impairment? Tests of Competing Explanations of the Supervisor Abuse and Employee Deviance Relationship Through Perceptions of Distributive Justice
Authors: Stefan Thau and Marie S. Mitchell
Reviewed by: Mary Alice Crowe-Taylor
A common research finding is that there is a clear relationship between supervisor abusiveness and deviant employee behavior. More abuse, more deviance. Why do employees who are abused by their supervisors engage in behavior that is harmful to their organizations or its members? One explanation is self-gain theory which assumes rational behavioral choices are made to even out the social exchange with the boss (a quid pro quo view “The boss hurts me so I hurt back either by harming the boss or the organization”). A second explanation is self-regulation impairment, which is not as rational. Rather, the employee’s attention and willpower are drained by trying to deal with the abuse, so they aren’t rationally assessing the consequences of their actions and don’t self-regulate well. Deviant behavior results.
Some theorists have proposed that distributive justice (like fair compensation) might lessen the negative effects of supervisory abuse. Likewise, many people kid themselves into thinking that they can stand working for an awful boss if the pay is good. This research shows that, contrary to this urban myth, distributive justice results in a stronger relationship between supervisory abuse and employee deviance, not a weaker one. Attempting to deal with the inconsistent messages of “You are a valuable, well paid employee” and “You are a rotten #$%&* employee” results in more occurrences of employee deviance, not less.
Fighting Bullies Beyond the Schoolyard: Bullying in the Workplace as a Competition for Resources
Topic: Conflict, Work Environment, Workplace Deviance
Publication: Business Horizons
Article: Eating their cake and everyone else’s cake, too: Resources as the main ingredient to work place bullying
Authors: A.R. Wheeler, J.R.B. Halbesleben, and K. Shanine
Reviewed By: Allison B. Siminovsky
It is a basic tenet of economics that there are limited resources for infinite demand, and the workplace is no exception to this rule. Resources in the organizational context are thoworkse things that workers need in order to perform their jobs–social relationships, job-skill set match, and a positive environment in which to work among them. In order to attain these resources, workers sometimes act in a counterproductive manner, psychologically or physically abusing those co-workers that seem to have the resources in their possession. This behavior is also known as bullying, and it is a serious problem facing organizations the world over.
This article not only asserts the belief that organizational policies on bullying should be proactive, preventing maltreatment from occurring in the first place, but that such policies should focus on environmental causes of bullying rather than personal qualities. That is, the authors assert that being a bully is not a disposition of one’s personality, but rather a defensive response to an unsupportive work environment. If the bullying begins as a means to attain and protect one’s resources, then companies can prevent bullying by reinforcing their environments against such activity. This can include better designing jobs so that available resources match job requirements and implementing zero-tolerance policies for bullying behavior.
It’s Easier to Deceive via e-Mail
Topic: Workplace Deviance, Ethics
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology (MAR 2010)
Article: The finer points of lying online: E-mail versus pen and paper
Authors: C.E. Naquin, T.R. Kurtzberg, and L.Y. Belkin
Reviewed By: Benjamin Granger
While lying and deception may come easily to some (certain politicians come to mind…), research suggests that generally, people find face-to-face deception to be more difficult than deception through a communication medium (telephone, letter, etc.).
In a recent article on the topic, Naquin, Kurtzberg, and Belkin (2010) hypothesized that deception (lying) may be even more likely via email than pen and paper communication. In their series of 3 studies, Naquin et al. showed that although deception occurred quite frequently for participants using both (e-mail vs. pen and paper) communication mediums, deception was indeed more common through email and the extent of deception (how big the lie was) tended to be greater via email.
The authors further demonstrated that this was due to people finding it easier to justify deception when communicating via email. Importantly, however, the first two studies utilized an artificial game with no “real” consequences for deception, as would certainly not be the case in a work setting (e.g., IRS audit). Thus, Naquin and colleagues conducted a third study with full-time managers working on a more realistic (albeit not real) simulation.
In this study, deception was revealed to others, thus, providing real consequences to the deceiver. Nevertheless, the results were largely the same for all three studies, suggesting that even in the face of consequences; people tend to engage in more deception via email to promote self-interests.
Unfortunately, Naquin and colleagues’ paper highlights a dark side of human nature and suggests that the media through which employees communicate can impact their propensity to lie and engage in deception. The authors suggest that their findings may also point to a general tendency for people to more easily justify unethical behavior via online media. These findings are perhaps even more disturbing when we consider the frequency with which business is conducted online.
Now…what expenses can I think of to write-off this year?
In the Mood for an OCB
Topic: Citizenship Behaviors, Workplace Deviance
Publication: Academy of Management Journal (OCT 2009)
Article: A within-person approach to work behavior and performance: Concurrent and lagged citizenship-counterproductivity associations, and dynamic relationships with affect and overall job performance.
Authors: R.S. Dalal, H. Lam, H.M. Weiss, E.R. Welch, C.L. Hulin
Reviewed By: Katie Bachman
If you aren’t already, sit down because I’m about to blow your mind. Here it comes: happy people act nice and unhappy people act mean, but not everyone is happy or unhappy all the time. Now, where’s my gold star? Sorry, I just get a little sarcastic when I read things in the literature that smack of kindergarten logic. Amazingly, most of the researchers who study this type of thing in organizations totally missed that lesson in school.
Organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs; i.e., behaviors aimed at helping an organization and/or its workers) and counterproductive work behaviors (CWBs; i.e., behaviors aimed at hurting an organization and/or its employees) are two of the hottest topics in the literature right now. Most of the research focuses on comparing multiple people on the dimensions, assuming that a person’s average level of work behavior is enough information. Well, no more of that!
A recent article in the Academy of Management Journal evaluated within-person effects (i.e. people evaluated against themselves rather than against others) for work behaviors. Affect (e.g., mood) was measured as an antecedent to OCBs and CWBs and, as usual, job performance came out the back end. The researchers found that affect predicted levels of work behaviors and that there was a lot of variability within individuals for both their OCB and CWB levels over time. CWB was particularly variable. Also, the behaviors were related but were not two ends of the same spectrum. In sum, mood determines workers’ positive and negative behaviors on the job, but the relationship isn’t one size fits all.
What does this mean for the twelve of us who don’t study work behaviors? It means that the previous research has a gaping hole in it, which this new work will start to fill. If we are looking at data between individuals, we aren’t getting the whole story about predicting behavior.
Dalal, R. S., Lam, H., Weiss, H. M., Welch, E. R., & Hulin, C. L. (2009). A within-person approach to work behavior and performance: concurrent and lagged citizenship-counterproductivity associations, and dynamic relationships with affect and overall job performance. Academy of Management Journal, 52, 1051 1066.
Identifying the Roots of Sexual Harassment
Topic: Organizational Justice,Sexual Harassment, Workplace Deviance
Publication: Journal of Applied Psychology
Article: Organization justice and men’s likelihood to sexually harass: The moderating role of sexism and personality.
Author: F. Krings, S. Facchin
Featured by: Benjamin Granger
Researchers Krings and Facchin (2009) set out to uncover the reasons why men engage in sexual harassment at work. The authors hypothesized that certain personality traits make some men more likely to engage in sexual harassment, but that sexual harassment might also depend on certain organizational factors.
Krings and Facchin found that men reported being more likely to engage in sexual harassment when they perceived low interactional justice (feel that they are not treated fairly by their supervisors). Overall, this finding suggests that sexual harassment is more likely following unfair interpersonal treatment.
However, as expected by the authors, individual personality factors also played an important role in the sexual harassment process. Specifically, perceptions of low interactional justice were more strongly related to sexual harassment when men were low in agreeableness (not very oriented toward interpersonal relationships) and high in hostile sexism (general antipathy toward women).
Important note: To measure sexual harassment, Krings and Facchin utilized the Likelihood of Sexual Harassment (LSH) scale, which specifically measures the likelihood of engaging in certain behaviors, not the actual occurrence of sexual harassment.
So what can we take from this research?
Although organizations often have minimal control over the personality factors of its employees (unless the organization specifically selects employees based on the personality factors of interest), organizations CAN more readily affect their employees’ perceptions of interactional justice. Generally, when employees feel that they are treated unfairly, they are more likely to subsequently “get back” (engage in deviant behaviors, including sexual harassment) at the organization or organizational members to “even the score.” By placing a heavy focus on fairness, organizations can nip deviant behaviors such as sexual harassment in the bud.
Why High Self-Esteem Makes for Employees of Your Dreams
Topic: Culture, Job Attitudes, Workplace Deviance
Publication: Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Article: Organizational supports and organizational deviance: The mediating role of organization-based self-esteem.
Author: D.L. Ferris, D.J. Brown, D. Heller
Featured by: Benjamin Granger
Organizational deviance such as employee theft (stealing, surfing the web), unexcused absences, and taking long breaks, cost organizations millions of dollars. Fortunately, research has found that supportive work environments make deviant behaviors less likely. But, it is unclear why supportive work environments lead employees to engage in fewer
deviant behaviors. Researchers Ferris, Brown, and Heller (2009) collected data from 237 employees working in a variety of industries to answer this question.
As expected, Ferris and colleagues found that positive perceptions of organizational support (i.e., in general, employees feel supported by their organizations) and positive perceptions of immediate supervisors (Leader-member exchange) reduced the occurrence of deviant behaviors in the workplace.
However, the authors were primarily interested in uncovering the reason why this relationship exists. Ferris et al.’s findings suggest that the mechanism is organization-based self-esteem (OBSE).
This finding suggests that when employees feel that their organization and immediate supervisors are supportive, their OBSE increases. This increase in OBSE is what leads employees to engage in fewer deviant behaviors at work.
The upshot is clear: Among the numerous benefits of facilitating supportive work climates (e.g., committed and satisfied employees), organizations that encourage supportive work environments likely influence the OBSE of its employees. More importantly, employees that derive high self-esteem from their organization tend to engage in fewer deviant behaviors, which will ultimately influence the organization’s bottom line.
Ferris, D.L., Brown, D.J., & Heller, D. (2009). Organizational supports and organizational
deviance: The mediating role of organization-based self-esteem. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 108, 279-286.