ArticlePDF Available

Abstract

The purpose of this research was to develop broad, theoretically derived measure(s) of deviant behavior in the workplace. Two scales were developed: a 12-item scale of organizational deviance (deviant behaviors directly harmful to the organization) and a 7-item scale of interpersonal deviance (deviant behaviors directly harmful to other individuals within the organization). These scales were found to have internal reliabilities of .81 and .78, respectively. Confirmatory factor analysis verified that a 2-factor structure had acceptable fit. Preliminary evidence of construct validity is also provided. The implications of this instrument for future empirical research on workplace deviance are discussed.
Journal
of
Applied
Psychology
2000,
Vol.
85, No. 3,
349-360
Copyright
2000
by the
American Psychological Association, Inc.
0021-9010/00/S5.00
DOI:
10.I037//0021-9010.85.3.349
Development
of a
Measure
of
Workplace Deviance
Rebecca
J.
Bennett
University
of
Toledo
Sandra
L.
Robinson
University
of
British
Columbia
The
purpose
of
this research
was to
develop broad, theoretically derived
measure(s)
of
deviant behavior
in
the
workplace.
Two
scales
were
developed:
a
12-item
scale
of
organizational deviance (deviant
behaviors directly
harmful
to the
organization)
and a
7-item
scale
of
interpersonal deviance (deviant
behaviors directly
harmful
to
other individuals within
the
organization). These
scales
were
found
to
have
internal reliabilities
of .81 and
.78, respectively. Confirmatory factor analysis verified that
a
2-factor
structure
had
acceptable
fit. Preliminary evidence
of
construct validity
is
also
provided.
The
implications
of
this instrument
for
future
empirical research
on
workplace deviance
are
discussed.
Workplace deviance
is a
pervasive
and
expensive problem
for
organizations.
For
example,
75% of
employees have reportedly
stolen
from
their employer
at
least once
(McGurn,
1988),
and it
has
been estimated that
33% to 75% of all
employees have
en-
gaged
in
behaviors such
as
theft,
fraud,
vandalism,
sabotage,
and
voluntary
absenteeism (Harper,
1990).
In
recent studies, almost
25%
of an
employee sample indicated knowledge
of
illicit drug
use
among coworkers during
the
past year (Lehman, Wolcom,
&
Simpson,
1990),
42% of a
surveyed sample
of
women reported
experiencing sexual harassment
at
work (Webb, 1991),
and 7% of
a
sample
of
employees reported being victims
of
physical threats
(Northwestern
Life
Insurance Company,
1993).
It
is not
surprising that
the
prevalence
of
workplace deviance
poses
a
serious economic threat
to
organizations.
The
annual costs
of
workplace deviance have been estimated
to be as
high
as
$4.2
billion
for
workplace violence alone (Bensimon, 1994),
$40 to
$120 billion
for
theft
(Buss,
1993;
Camara
&
Schneider, 1994),
and
$6 to
$200
billion
for a
wide range
of
delinquent organiza-
tional behavior (Murphy, 1993).
Despite
the
prevalence
and
costs
of
workplace deviance,
our
current understanding
of
workplace deviance remains limited,
and
much
empirical research
has yet to be
done. This empirical
re-
search
may be
enhanced
by the
availability
of a
validated measure
of
workplace
Deviance.
The
purpose
of
this
study
is to
produce
such
a
measure.
Rebecca
J.
Bennett, Department
of
Management, University
of
Toledo;
Sandra
L.
Robinson, Faculty
of
Commerce
and
Business Administration,
University
of
British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
Support
for
this research
was
provided
by an
Academic Challenge Grant
Award
from the
Department
of
Management
at the
University
of
Toledo.
We
thank Lynn Shore, Paul
Spector,
and
Linn
Van
Dyne
for
their
helpful
advice.
Correspondence concerning this article should
be
addressed
to
Rebecca
J.
Bennett, Department
of
Management, University
of
Toledo, Toledo,
Ohio
43606-3390.
Electronic mail
may be
sent
to
rebecca.bennett@
utoledo.edu.
Understanding
Workplace Deviance
Workplace deviance
has
been defined
as
voluntary behavior that
violates significant organizational norms and,
in so
doing, threat-
ens the
well-being
of the
organization
or its
members,
or
both
(Robinson
&
Bennett, 1995). Workplace deviance refers
to
volun-
tary
behavior
in
that employees either lack motivation
to
conform
to,
and/or
become motivated
to
violate, normative expectations
of
the
social context (Kaplan, 1975). Organizational norms consist
of
basic moral standards
as
well
as
other traditional community
standards, including those prescribed
by
formal
and
informal
or-
ganizational policies, rules,
and
procedures (Feldman, 1984).
For
scales
to be
valid,
it is
essential that there
be at
least
a
tentative theoretical model
to
guide scale development (Churchill,
1988; DeVellis, 1991).
It is
argued here that deviant behaviors
fall
into clusters
or
families (Robinson
&
Bennett,
1997;
Roznowski
&
Hulin,
1992).
Any
specific deviant behavior
can be
placed into
one
of
these behavioral families.
We
make this assumption because
we
believe that although there
are a
myriad
of
different
manifestations
of
deviant behaviors, research suggests that some
of
these mani-
festations
are
similar
in
nature
to one
another, share similar ante-
cedents,
and may
thus
be
functional
substitutes
for one
another
(i.e., they serve
the
same goals; Robinson
&
Bennett, 1997).
Research suggests
a
wide range
of
reasons
why
employees
engage
in
deviant behavior (Bennett, 1998a, 1998b; Robinson
&
Bennett, 1997; Robinson
&
Greenberg,
1999),
ranging
from
reac-
tions
to
perceived injustice,
dissatisfaction,
role modeling,
and
thrill-seeking. Yet, deviant organizational behavior
is
distinct
in
that
it is
usually
behavior
that
is
very constrained
in the
workplace.
Employees
in a
given time period
or
context
are
very limited
in
terms
of the
type
of
deviant
behavior
in
which they
can
engage.
Thus,
they
may be
motivated
to
engage
in
deviance,
but
that
deviance will take
different
manifestations depending
on the
con-
straints
of the
situation.
We
would argue then
that
an
employee
may
choose
from
among deviant behaviors within
a
family
that
are
functionally
equivalent, choosing
the one
that
is
least constrained,
most feasible,
or
least costly, given
the
context (Robinson
&
Bennett, 1997).
If
an
individual engages
in one
behavior
from
a
family,
he or she
is
more
likely
to
engage
in
another
behavior
from
that family than
349
350
BENNETT
AND
ROBINSON
to
engage
in a
behavior within another family.
We
assume
em-
ployees
may
engage
in
behavioral switching within families
be-
cause
the
behaviors within each
are
substitutable
and
functionally
equivalent (Robinson
&
Bennett, 1997). Employees then
may
engage
in one or
several behaviors
from
a
wide set.
If
we
apply
the
family
of
behavior metaphor
to
deviant behav-
iors, what might those families
of
deviance look like? Robinson
and
Bennett (1995, 1997) identified
a
typology
of
workplace
deviance that
may
provide insight into this question. They argued
that
an
important distinction between types
of
deviance
was
whether
the
deviance
was
directed
or
targeted
at
either
the
orga-
nization
(organizational deviance)
or at
members
of the
organiza-
tion
(interpersonal deviance).
The
target
of
deviance
is an
impor-
tant
element
of
deviance
for
several reasons.
First,
it is
posited
that
this dimension
of
deviance identifies
an
important qualitative
difference
between deviant acts; individuals prone toward devi-
ance directed
at the
organization
are
likely
to be
different
than
those individuals prone toward deviance directed
at
other individ-
uals.
Numerous behavioral constructs,
from
conflict
to
dissatisfac-
tion
behavior
to
citizenship behavior, have been classified
in
terms
of
their targets
(C. D.
Fisher
&
Locke, 1992; Organ, 1988, 1990;
Roznowski
&
Hulin,
1992; Williams
&
Anderson,
1991).
The
domain
of
workplace deviance
is no
exception. Most conceptual
approaches
to
workplace deviance have explicitly acknowledged
that
deviance
may be
directed
at
either
the
organization itself
or its
members,
or
both (Baron
&
Neuman,
1996;
Giacalone
&
Green-
berg, 1997;
O'Leary-Kelly,
Griffin,
&
Glew,
1996; Robinson
&
Greenberg, 1999;
Skarlicki
&
Folger, 1997). Both Green (1997)
and
Turner
and
Stephenson (1993) have conceptualized organiza-
tional
crimes
in
terms
of
targets.
A
similar distinction
has
been
drawn
regarding conceptualizations
of
more specific types
of de-
viant
acts
as
well.
For
example, Greenberg
and
Scott
(1996)
have
distinguished
between employee
theft
directed
at
other employees
(e.g.,<