Beside smart and efficient use of natural and technological resources, sustainability seeks positive, regenerative environments for employees [1
] with human resources development at all levels [2
]. Scholars and business experts urge for development of more sustainable organizational and work environments that promote employee wellbeing, long term productivity, a meaningful purpose, as well as work-life balance [1
Still, in practice many employees face a toxic working environment that includes an array of harmful working conditions [1
] where deviance has been extensively present and encouraged [4
]. Deviant behavior presents different forms of employee behavior that harm the legitimate interests of the organization [5
], endangering not just the organization, but also its members. It encompasses all activities of physical and verbal violence and intimidation at work. As a consequence, it not only results in poor health and individual safety, but it can have various effects on different job and non-job related social psychological outcomes [6
], leading further to high organizational costs and negative impacts on the wider organizational environment.
Review of the existing literature, e.g., [2
], provides various indicators of a healthy and sustainable work environment. Among them many are related and dependent upon organizational context, including organizational culture. Organizational culture, encompassing a system of shared organizational values, norms and beliefs, conveys a sense of identity for organizational members, facilitates the generation of commitment to something greater than self, enhances social system stability and serves as a sense-making device that shapes employee behavior [8
]. In that sense, it lays out the foundation and shape of the working environment. Among the organization-related determinants, scholars have also emphasized its role in influencing deviant workplace behavior. Organizational norms and values are brought through organizational culture, so there is no reason to doubt that organizational culture and deviant employee behavior will be interconnected [9
]. Still it remains unclear what type of organizational culture and cultural values, as building blocks of culture, can create a deviance-free working environment. Although complex in nature, as it is comprised of shared attitudes, norms, beliefs and behaviors, every organizational culture has a set of dominant values that guide and shape individual behavior.
Therefore, the purpose of this study is to uncover some of the connections between types of organizational culture and frequency of different deviant workplace behaviors, in order to develop those cultural values that create deviance free and sustainable work environment. Theoretical implications have been tested through an empirical research using Cameron and Quinn’s Competing Values Framework (CVF) [10
] as a taxonomy of organizational culture and Robinson and Bennett [11
] typology of deviant workplace behavior.
CVF has been chosen to explore the connection, as it is one of the dominant and most comprehensive models for the assessment of organizational culture complexity [12
] and as opposed to other models, provides a descriptive analysis of culture content and allows for comparisons. According to dimensions of internal or external focus and stability or flexibility structure, four distinct dominant types of culture (i.e., clan, adhocracy, hierarchy and market) can be identified [10
]. Clan culture’s internal focus and flexibility results in a collaborative culture whose values are similar to those of an extended family. Its competing culture is market culture (external orientation and stability) that emphasizes competitiveness, results and achieving objectives. Adhocracy culture (external orientation and flexibility) promotes innovation and entrepreneurship. Hierarchy culture (internal orientation and stability) is characterized by predictability, routines and hierarchical control. Each of the dominant culture types has idiosyncratic elements and set of dominant values that might have diverse effects on individual members’ behavior, including emergence of deviance. As such, targeted analyses of corporate culture are necessary to provide deeper understanding if diverse dominant cultural values may lead to different levels of individual and organizational deviant behavior.
Previous empirical research indicates corporate culture to have an important role and connection with different forms of deviant workplace behavior e.g., [14
]. Still, this research is scarce, mostly referring to some aspects of organizational culture, such as climate, e.g., [15
], and specific forms of deviance such as bullying e.g., [17
]. In order to test more clearly the connection among organizational culture in general and occurrence of deviant behavior in organizations we state our first hypothesis:
Hypothesis 1 (H1).
There is a connection between organizational culture and deviant workplace behaviors.
In terms of identifying selected values that act as antecedents of deviant behavior and with regard to characteristics of culture that promote deviance, for instance, Zheng et al. [18
] found that in Machiavellian corporate culture that included dimension of low trust, control and status orientation employees exhibit counterproductive work behavior. Kalemci et al. [19
] found power distance and paternalistic cultural orientation interrelates with deviant behavior. Previous empirical research that orients on CVF cultural types, as Fulmore [20
], finds hierarchy culture to encourage and clan culture to discourage ethical behavior, while results of Di Stefano et al. [21
] show lowest level of deviance to be in adhocracy and clan cultures. In order to test if diverse dominant cultural values according to CVF cultural types may lead to different levels of individual and organizational deviant behavior, and based on previous research regarding connection of CVF cultural types and deviant behavior, we state the following hypotheses:
Hypothesis 2 (H2).
Values attributed to clan culture will be negatively related to level of deviant workplace behavior.
Hypothesis 3 (H3).
Values attributed to adhocracy culture will be negatively related to level of deviant workplace behavior.
Hypothesis 4 (H4).
Values attributed to hierarchy culture will be positively related to level of deviant workplace behavior.
Hypothesis 5 (H5).
Values attributed to market culture will be positively related to level of deviant workplace behavior.
2. Deviant Workplace Behavior and Its Antecedents
Deviant workplace behavior, also known as counterproductive work behavior [22
], abusive work behavior [23
], dysfunctional behavior [24
], or workplace aggression [25
] refers to a wide range of “negative”, intentional behaviors that violate institutionalized norms and thus endanger the welfare of an individual or organizations [26
]. They include behaviors such as physical and verbal violence and aggression, theft, abusive supervision, withholding effort or information [27
], to name just a few. Their presence in organizational settings for years has been a pervasive problem, as of significant economic and social costs connected with deviance at work [28
] harming not just employees and organizations but also customers [29
The literature offers different classifications of deviant behavior. For instance, Gruys and Sackett [30
] created a typology with as many as 11 dimensions, while Spector et al. [31
] propose five dimensions. Still, the most common used is a two-dimensional model developed by Robinson and Bennett [11
]. Using the concept of deviance as a behavior that violates accepted organizational norms, they created a typology of deviant workplace behaviors using multidimensional scaling techniques. According to their model deviant workplace behaviors can vary along two dimensions: minor versus serious and interpersonal versus organizational, depending if the behavior is targeting individuals or organization. On the basis of these two dimensions, it is possible to create four distinct categories of employee deviance: on organizational level (1) production deviance which includes behaviors such as leaving early, intentionally working slowly; (2) property deviance, which includes sabotage, stealing, taking bribes; and on individual level (3) political deviance, which includes showing favoritism, gossiping, blaming coworkers; (4) personal aggression, which includes sexual harassment, verbal abuse, coworker theft, and endangering coworkers.
Many scholars who study workplace deviance have focused on analyzing the possible antecedents of negative workplace deviance e.g., [32
]. While some stress the importance of aspects related to individual level behavior e.g., [35
], others emphasize aspects related to organizational context and situation [36
Marcus and Scholer [37
] provided and empirically tested a general framework of workplace deviance based on a multiple approach, where all predictor variables showed at least moderately strong correlates to deviant workplace behavior. The authors presented antecedents of negative workplace deviance within four quadrants: triggers (situation-motivation), opportunity (situation-control), internal control (individual-control), propensity (individual-motivation). Triggers of deviant workplace behavior could be external events or internal perceptions of that event that stimulate workplace deviance such as perceived injustice, inequity, job dissatisfaction, stress, pressure, frustration, anger, reprimand, demotion, termination, etc. Opportunity is created by the situation or perception of that situation that allows or enables workplace deviance actions—it is determined by job autonomy, organizational policy, procedures, industry, macroeconomic variables etc. Internal control refers to personal characteristics that prevent individual from negative workplace deviance based on self-control, emotional stability, conscientiousness, agreeableness, self-esteem, mental health, general trust, positive ethic attitudes etc. Propensity is conceptualized as personal difference that motivates individual towards negative workplace deviance by making its outcome more attractive and desired. These personal characteristics include individual traits as the need for excitement and/or power, aggressiveness, etc.
However, in general, most workplace deviance research has typically focused on individual predispositions to deviant behavior, such as personality traits, e.g., [38
], individual mental health [41
], attitudes [42
] and the likes, while less emphasis has been placed on organization- or work-related factors.
An organization provides an arena in which employees spend their working life, so organization-related factors have an important role in shaping employees’ behaviors. Van Fleet and Griffin [24
] perceive organization-related factors as catalysts for dysfunctional events. Among the organization-related determinants, scholars have emphasized the important role of organizational culture in influencing workplace deviance behavior. Among others, organizational culture has a direct effect on morale, commitment and job satisfaction—variables that can act as triggers of workplace deviance [43
]. Despite that, a literature review reveals there has not been much empirical research on this topic [21
3. Importance of Organizational Culture for Diminishing Deviance
Organizational culture is described as a universal routine referring to the core and fundamentals of the organization; hence, such culture forms the realism of the organization that reflects on experience of working, employee interpersonal interactions and anticipated actions or behaviors [44
] and decisions. Influencing on worker behavior, organizational culture serves to reinforce the benefits of unified goals and shared responsibility [17
]. Organizational culture, according to O’Reilly and Chatman [45
], is a social control mechanism that defines appropriate attitudes and behaviors for organizational members. It defines the context in which the relations among employees develop and operate and thus is seen as a social motivation and control system [46
An individual’s behavior in a social environment is guided by the displays of behavior from others within their environment and based on information about values, norms, expectations, and behavior outcomes [47
]. Schein [48
] noted that organizational culture identifies what things members of the organization should pay attention to, how they react emotionally, and what actions they should take. Hence, strong organizational cultures can support and acknowledge positive, as well as negative behaviors [17
]. There are examples of organizational culture that support aggressive behaviors as a practical method of motivating employees, so, incivility and rude behavior may emerge if disrespectful behaviors persist [49
To control deviant workplace behavior, it is useful to provide a favorable workplace environment with an adequate value framework. Successful companies develop their employees and promote values of equity, autonomy, self-reliance, and self-management [50
]. Oladapo and Banks [51
] emphasize that a safe workplace should be focused on a culture providing a safe and healthy environment, respecting the following factors: improving the work organization and working environment; promoting active participation; encouraging personal development; promoting overall health awareness. Based on their empirical study, Boye and Jones [52
] concluded that organizational values, such as caring and empathy, fair remuneration, interpersonal cooperation, honesty, and ethics had the potential to lower levels of stealing. A warm relationship environment, perceived support, employees’ sense of commitment to the organization and organizational standards reduce the level of counterproductive behaviors among employees [53
]. Many scholars have also emphasized that creating the code of ethics is crucial to develop a culture of organizational integrity and to encourage ethical behavior e.g., [49
Van Fleet and Griffin [24
] emphasize that organizational cultures can vary in their functionality regarding how they contribute or undermine organizational performance, stressing dysfunctional culture as the one that constraints or limits individual capabilities and encourages and rewards mediocre performance.
As mentioned, previous empirical research has provided support for influence of corporate culture on deviant workplace behavior e.g., [14
], although mostly analyzing organizational climate aspect of culture. Research has also indicated that cultural types can boost or discourage deviant behavior [20
]: hierarchy culture to encourage [20
] while adhocracy and clan culture to discourage deviant behavior [20
Deviant workplace behavior can have numerous negative repercussions for employees, the organization and its customers. Antecedents of deviant behavior can be analyzed both on the individual and organizational level and this research focused on the role of organizational culture in preventing deviant behavior. Previous research on this matter is scarce [21
], although the literature emphasizes organizational culture as one of the key factors that can control employee behavior, e.g., [58
]. Therefore its impact on supporting deviant behaviors should not be neglected. The analysis confirmed that certain types of culture can be related with deviant behaviors, thus confirming our first hypothesis about the connection between organizational culture and deviant workplace behaviors. Still, this research showed that the type of culture matters, as market and hierarchy cultures show statistically significant correlation with deviant behavior, but clan and adhocracy culture were not related to deviance. The effect of hierarchy culture values on deviant behavior has been also confirmed by Fulmore [20
], Di Stefano et al. [21
], and Kanten and Ulker [53
] which indicates that establishing clear procedures, as well as compliance to such rules and regulations, can be used as a tool to diminish deviant workplace behavior. Unlike previous research, this research shows that market oriented culture with working environment that emphasizes clear objectives and efficiency can also minimize deviant behaviors.
Since organizational cultures consist of many values combined in a unique way, it is important to understand which organizational values encourage deviant behavior. Some previous studies have found that positive working environment results from active employee participation, autonomy, fairness or cooperation e.g., [50
]. As a part of the research, in terms of identifying selected values that act as antecedents of deviant behavior, we further on tested if certain values attributed to dominant organizational culture that had connection with deviant behavior, are connected to it. In that sense, it was explored which of the individual values related with market and hierarchy culture have a proven relationship with deviant behaviors. Regression analysis indicates that higher job clarity decreases both individual and organizational deviance. This implies that deviant behavior can be work related, in case employees have clear job-related objectives they might be less willing to express their deviant behaviors. On the other hand, poor job design with unclear job roles and objectives might motivate employees to show deviant behavior towards other employees or the whole organization.
Another value related with market culture that is connected and might act as a source of deviant behavior is focus on efficiency. A strong emphasis on efficiency has the potential to increase destructive behaviors towards other employees. Most likely, this negative effect of emphasizing efficiency might occur in circumstances when other mechanisms that support efficiency are not put in place (e.g., unclear or unrealistic goals, reward systems that does not reward efficiency or lack of feedback about efficiency).
Research results indicate that emphasizing only certain values attributed to hierarchy culture can be related with fewer deviant behaviors. This does not confirm our three hypotheses about connection of values attributed to clan, adhocracy and hierarchy culture and deviant behavior. Still, hypothesis on the positive connection of values attributed to market culture and deviant behavior can be partially accepted, as value of job clarity is negatively related to deviant behavior, while focus on efficiency was positively related.
However, it is necessary to stress that low R2
coefficient on all regression analysis performed indicates that workplace deviance surely has other antecedents than corporate culture. These ones can be person-based (such as age and gender, as our research also indicated) or related to the characteristics of the job performed. As Martinko et al. ([59
], p. 41) emphasize, deviance needs to be looked as a result of “a complex interaction between the person and the environment in which the individual’s reasoning about the environment and expected outcomes drive the individual’s behavior”.
By focusing on the relationship between organizational culture and its characteristics that are related to greater frequency of workplace deviance occurrence, this study tried to provide additional insight and understanding of sustainable work environments and their development. Every corporate culture includes a unique set of company-specific values that can be attributed to several cultures, although features of a specific type of culture will probably dominate. Results of the empirical research provide evidence that organizational cultures and its core values will be among factors that determine the level of deviant behavior. By focusing on creating culture that values higher job clarity and job design with clear job roles and objectives, managers can help to create environment with lower levels of both individual and organizational deviance. Although this kind of value is usually typical for market cultures, having clearly defined one’s job position can be applied in any culture type therefore such finding has a broader application in the context of corporate culture and is not limited to market culture. Focus on efficiency can also be found within any culture, however, as a part of the CVF it is a value most characteristic for market cultures. High demands on efficiency will lead to greater interpersonal deviance. Having this in mind, in order to assure workplace sustainability, managers should not overemphasize efficiency due it its possible counterproductive effect.
Interestingly, emphasis on hierarchy culture that is based on formal chains of command, rules and policies and long-term stability was also related with lower levels of deviance. Such culture-stimulated overall predictability within organizations can therefore be used to minimize deviant behaviors, although examination of specific values within hierarchy culture did not reveal that a certain value acts as antecedent of deviant behavior.
Managers and leaders have an important role in creating a corporate culture that will inhibit or elicit deviance. By communicating expectations and by role modelling, managers transmit cultural precepts to employees regarding desirable behavior, as well as regarding misbehavior [47
]. Managers should strengthen desired invisible cultural features by creating inspirational artefacts that will bond employees together and drive them toward positive outcomes. The responsibility of successful leaders and managers in today’s organizations is to develop a corporate culture that will reward workers’ efforts and commitment, but in a healthy work environment.
By understanding factors that are connected with deviant behaviors managers can eradicate those organizational or workplace sources of deviant behavior that are under their direct control. Empirical evidence provided in this paper supports the claim that organizational culture, although slightly, can inhibit or support deviant behavior. Promoting adequate value frameworks might enable managers to reduce organizational and interpersonal deviant behavior. Also, it is useful to create environments where other factors that could diminish work deviance exist, especially in the case of market and hierarchy cultures.
As the results of our research emphasize, organizational culture is just one element of the puzzle leading to deviant behavior. Gender and age have also shown statistical correlations with the level of deviant behavior. This suggests that additional individual-based factors, such as attitudes, perception of injustice, personality traits, as well as congruence between personal and organizational values, leader member relation, and managerial style also need to be taken into consideration as potential causes and drivers of deviance. Moreover, mutual effects of these different personal and organizational factors cannot be neglected. Hence, managers should assure existence of organization-related factors such as organizational justice, adequate organizational climate, support and trust, work-related factors such as adequate work load and resources, and consider individually-related factors in the process of employee selection and development.
In that sense, it is necessary to stress several limitations of this study. Respondents self-reported the level of deviant behavior, so it is possible that even though they were guaranteed anonymity some of them provided more socially acceptable answers, making the real level of deviant behavior higher than shown by this research. Corporate culture was operationalized based on CVF so it is possible that some unique values that stimulate deviant behavior were not analyzed as they were not part of this model. Low variance, as mentioned, indicates that other distinct personal and environmental factors influence deviance, thus organizational culture cannot be analyzed as an exclusive factor influencing deviant behavior. Workplace deviance may be conditioned by the culture of the country in which the company operates. Specifically, cultural values might differ in Western and Eastern cultures as well as in different countries and determine what is considered acceptable behavior. Per example, different understandings of time, competitiveness, sharing and involvement versus egocentrism, individualism versus collectivism, etc. might exist in different areas and thus influence on employee behavior. Value system of the industry-type in which the company operates might act similarly as well whether the organization is in profit or non-profit sector. The analysis used a limited number of techniques for data analysis. Further research needs to include additional individual and contextual variables into analysis (especially individual or personality traits) and use other models of corporate culture. Including more study variables in the research should be accompanied with more sophisticated statistical analyses.