Essays on organizational misbehavior

Liu, Qinglin
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Francis, Bill, B
Yu, Shan
Seibert, Scott
Begley, Thomas
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This dissertation consists of two distinct but related essays examining organizational misbehavior. Organizational misbehavior is defined as “any intentional action by members of organizations that defies and violates (a) shared organizational norms and expectations and/or (b) core societal values, mores and standards of proper conduct” (Vardi & Wiener, 1996, p.153). The study of organizational behavior mainly pays attention to the microlevel and positive-normative side of human behavioral patterns within organizations since its growth in the mid-1950s. In contrast, the microlevel of the unconventional side of organizational behavior still lacks proper attention (Vardi & Weitz, 2003). Therefore, scholars propose that “We have not come to grips with the fact that certain forms of organizational misbehavior are indeed commonplace, are prevalent, are part of any organizational life, and are not necessarily bad or dysfunctional for either perpetrators or organizations. We must explore misbehavior simply to better understand people’s behavior in the workplace” (Vardi & Weitz, 2003, p. xvii). As an echo to this call, my dissertation aims at adding to our understanding of organizational misbehavior. Depending on the underlying intention of the misbehaving individuals, organizational misbehavior could be classified into three basic types (Vardi & Weitz, 2003; Vardi & Wiener, 1996): Misbehaviors that are intended to benefit the self (OMB Type S); misbehaviors that primarily intend to benefit the member’s employing organization as a whole (OMB Type O); misbehaviors that primarily intend to inflict damage and be destructive (OMB Type D). Compared with OMB Type S and OMB Type D, research about OMB Type O is less common (Vardi & Weitz, 2003). In this research, I pay special attention to this less-studied phenomenon and aim to add our understanding of it. While the general purpose of OMB Type O is to benefit the organization, depending on whether behaviors violate the social norms, such behaviors could be further classified into two categories. The first kind of OMB Type O deviates from organizational norms but complies with social norms, a phenomenon also known as positive deviance or constructive deviance (Vadera et al., 2013; Warren, 2003). The second kind of OMB Type O deviates from social norms, although it may or may not conform to organizational norms, a phenomenon named unethical pro-organizational behavior (UPB, Umphress & Bingham, 2011). In this dissertation, I study both types of OMB Type O. In the first paper, I study a specific kind of positive deviance named pro-social rule breaking (PSRB) and examine its trickle-down effect. Based on the principle-learning perspective of social learning theory, I expect that the leader’s PSRB would make employees underestimate the legitimacy of organizational rules, encouraging employees to get involved in PSRB. I also explore the boundary conditions and investigate the moderating role of the employee’s internal locus of control and the leader’s transformational leadership style. Multilevel structural equation modeling with a sample of Chinese leaders and their employees is used to test the hypotheses. My findings supplement research about PSRB and help us understand more about organizational misbehavior from the positive deviance territory. The second paper is based on the entrepreneurial context and discusses topics related to entrepreneurial passion and UPB. Previous research on entrepreneurial passion has mainly focused on its positive effects. In this research, I pay special attention to the potential negative impacts of entrepreneurial passion. Based on the goal shielding perspective, I investigate how dualistic entrepreneurial passion could influence the entrepreneur’s involvement in UPB. Furthermore, I explore how the entrepreneur’s passion and UPB could impact their employees. I argue that employees might mimic the UPB of the entrepreneur through social learning. Moreover, I propose that the entrepreneur’s passion could cause employees to get involved in UPB through emotional contagion. I also study the boundary condition. Multilevel structural equation modeling with a sample of Chinese entrepreneurs and their employees is used to test the hypotheses. The findings contribute to research about UPB and entrepreneurial passion.
School of Management
Lally School of Management
Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Troy, NY
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