Deviant and Criminal Behavior in the Workplace.

Author:Brice, William
Position:Book review

Steven M. Elias, ed., Deviant and Criminal Behavior in the Workplace (NYU Press 2013), 253 pp.

The 2013 book Deviant and Criminal Behavior in the Workplace addresses the psychological constructs, situations, and environments underlying active counterproductive workplace behaviors. Building on a diverse range of psychological findings, this book highlights that the field of criminology needs to expand outside of the realm of violence and instead look at how deviant workplace behaviors can tie into--and motivate--other types of crime.

INTRODUCTION BOOK CONTENTS A. Foundations Chapter 1: Conceptual Foundations: Insights from the Criminology and the Sociology of Work B. Employee Characteristics Associated with Deviant Workplace Behaviors Chapter 2: Emotions and Deviance Chapter 3: Bom to Be Deviant? An Examination of the Relationship Between Workplace Deviance and Employee Personality Chapter 4: The Role of Occupational Stress in Workplace Deviance C. Organizational Influences on Deviant Workplace Behavior Chapter 5: Accounting in Organizational Environments: Contextualizing Rules and Fraud Chapter 6: Human Resource Management and Deviant/Criminal Behavior in Organizations D. The Role of (Injustice and Social Power in Deviant Workplace Behavior Chapter 7: Hazards of Justice: Egocentric Bias, Moral Judgments, and Revenge-Seeking Chapter 8: The Role of Social Power in Sexual Harassment and Discrimination E. Violence in the Workplace Chapter 9: When Employees Turn Violent: The Potential Role of Workplace Culture in Triggering Deviant Behavior Chapter 10: Workplace Violence: Prevention and Aftermath II. CRITICAL ANALYSIS A. Themes B. Similar works CONCLUSION INTRODUCTION

Workplace deviance is a form of behavior that violates organization norms and negatively impacts the well-being of organizations and their members. The theoretical perspectives and corresponding empirical evidence presented within Elias's Deviant and Criminal Behavior in the Workplace offers significant insights for the field of criminology. By taking a multidisciplinary approach to the causes of workplace-related crime, this book highlights a number of ways the fields of organizational psychology, sociology, and management can inform criminology through the elucidation of the roots of deviant and criminal behavior in the workplace.

In this review, we provide a synopsis of the primary themes within each section, broken down by individual chapters. We then compare this volume to similar published works and discuss the unique contribution this book provides to the available literature.



    Chapter 1: Conceptual Foundations: Insights from the Criminology and the Sociology of Work


    HSBC, Europe's largest bank, (1) paid $1.9 billion in penalties to settle a money laundering probe involving Mexican drug cartels, Iran, and other illegal operations. (2) Wells Fargo paid $175 million in restitution after discriminating against minority borrowers by increasing their interest rates. (3) Swiss bank UBS blamed a rogue trader at its London office for a $2.3 billion loss as the result of fraud. (4) From aiding and abetting terrorists and criminals to discriminating against minorities, criminal behavior occurs in myriad ways in the workplace. Yet, as Hodson and Jenson point out, workplace crime has received relatively little attention in the criminology literature. Whereas the causes of street crime (e.g., murder, rape, burglary) tend to remain consistent across time and settings, far less is known about the psychology of workplace crime.

    These authors apply three different approaches to understanding the causes of workplace deviance: anomie theory, differential association-social learning theory, and social control theory.

    Anomie theory (also known as strain theory) addresses the conflict within a culture of what constitutes success in life and the appropriate ways to achieve those goals. Anomie originated with Emile Durkheim as a way to address how population growth was reducing interactions between different groups, leading to reduced understanding. (5) This term was then adopted by Robert K. Merton to address the differences between culturally expected norms/goals and the actual ability to reach those goals. (6) Complementary to anomie theory is the concept of workplace justice, or the extent to which employees feel fairly treated at work.

    Differential association-social learning theory, originally proposed by Edwin Southerland, postulates that organizational culture has a strong impact on deviant behavior. That is, employees will observe the current workplace culture, reach conclusions of what is acceptable, and modify their behaviors to remain consistent with those conclusions. (7)

    Social control theory purports that employees' internalized relationships, commitments, values, norms, and beliefs have an impact on their willingness to engage in deviant behavior. This theory is closely related to ideas involving personality and self-control.


    Chapter 2: Emotions and Deviance


    In their chapter Michalak and Ashkanasy discuss counterproductive work behavior (CWB), organizational misbehavior, interpersonal deviance (bullying, sexual harassment, incivility), and organizational deviance (sabotage, theft, unauthorized absenteeism). The authors specifically consider the connections between emotions and workplace deviance via five complementary theoretical perspectives. For the purpose of this chapter, emotions are defined as a biosocial expression system with reactions that are short, intense and focused, and typically attached to an object or cause. (8)

    A within-persons approach to deviance draws on affective events theory to establish the differences between emotion- and judgment-driven behaviors. Affective events theory focuses on how emotions and moods can affect job performance and satisfaction. (9) By examining counterproductive workplace behaviors through this lens, the authors highlight the emotional and rational components that prime the individual for workplace deviance. This theory helps explain how perceived injustice relates to behaviors such as theft, sabotage, and cyber-loafing (i.e., an individual using the Internet or other electronic devices instead of engaging in work tasks). Furthermore, the extent to which employees feel that the organization has violated their shared psychological contract can contribute to the number of revenge actions they take, the amount they abuse others, and the degree to which they engage in withdrawal behaviors.

    An individual differences approach focuses on how perpetrator and victim traits interact with one another. By understanding and identifying how personality characteristics contribute to workplace deviance, employers can take steps, like screening and selection, to limit the presence of deviant individuals.

    An interpersonal interactions approach deals with how employees' workplace interactions contribute to deviant behavior. From the stress of surface acting to abusive situations and bystander effects, the interactions between individuals offer plenty of potential to inhibit or exacerbate the presence of workplace deviant behaviors.

    A team perspective focuses on the relationships between coworkers. This perspective considers how relations between leaders and subordinates impact the relationships among other group members; how leaders can moderate the emotional responses of and between team members; how emotions are transferred within a group; and what determines the individual social ties made within a group.

    An organizational culture perspective considers how norms within an organization impact the likelihood of workplace deviance. Culture impacts emotional experiences within work settings and employees' ability to regulate their emotions--both of which can foster or prevent deviance.

    Emotion has a direct impact on deviant and criminal behavior within an organization. Theft, sabotage...

To continue reading