Workplace deviance: Four studies on employee motives and self-regulation

Stefan Thomas Thau



A disturbing yet unavoidable fact of organizational life is that employees do things that are, according to some standards of civility, justice, or law, considered to be wrong: Employees steal, spread rumors, lie, damage property needed for efficient production, and play mean tricks against their coworkers and supervisors. These acts have been referred to as workplace deviance and are defined as voluntary behaviors that threaten the well-being of the organization, their members, or both. One classical explanation of these behaviors is that employees engage in workplace deviance because this is consistent with their goals. Another classical explanation is that employees engage in deviance because they are mistreated by organizational authorities. I challenge these two views in this dissertation. I posit that previous research has neglected the role of fundamental social motivations that have evolved vis-à-vis interdependence (belonging, trusting others, uncertainty reduction, and enhancing self-esteem) but that these motives should be particularly relevant in explaining workplace deviance. I then argue and show that when employees pursue goals that are relevant to satisfy fundamental motives, but these goals are thwarted, then employees engage in workplace deviance although this is inconsistent with their goals. I also make the argument and show that not all employees are equally concerned about the treatment they receive from organizational authorities; rather I show that the influence of interpersonal mistreatment on workplace deviance depends on employee’s social motives.
Originele taal-2English
KwalificatieDoctor of Philosophy
Toekennende instantie
  • Rijksuniversiteit Groningen
  • Bennet, R.J., Supervisor, Externe Persoon
  • Stokman, Frans, Supervisor
  • Wittek, Rafael, Supervisor
Datum van toekenning10-jun-2006
Plaats van publicatie[S.l.]
Gedrukte ISBN's903672676X
StatusPublished - 2006

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