Editor’s note: We are pleased to welcome Manuela Priesemuth of Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada. Her paper “Bad Behavior in Groups: The Impact of Overall Justice Climate and Functional Dependence on Counterproductive Work Behavior in Work Units,” co-authored by Anke Arnaud of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University and Marshall Schminke of the University of Central Florida, appeared in the April 2013 issue of Group & Organization Management.
My coauthors and I have always been interested in studying environmental and contextual factors in organizations that may influence employee behavior. In this current paper, we examine two environmental factors that influence bad behavior in organizations. Specifically, overall justice climate predicts negative behavior in work groups and this relationship is stronger when the task interdependence between workers is low.
Our findings were consistent with our predictions. However, our findings are somewhat counterintuitive for other literatures. For example, we found that reduced interdependence between workers, and therefore greater work autonomy for employees, may have negative implications for work units such that negative behavior occurs more frequently. Most research to date has emphasized the positive implications of greater work autonomy for employees. Our research shows that this is not always the case.
My last point above is probably one of the main contributions for practice. That is, greater independence and autonomy for employees in work units can turn ugly if fair conditions are not present in the organizations. Managers and organizations need to focus on fairness in the workplace, as unfairness has been shown to create deviant and political behavior in work groups. Fair climates in turn foster positive behavior. Furthermore, the structure of the work itself needs to be considered for work units as certain work structures can exacerbate bad behavior in an unfair climate.
Manuela Priesemuth is an assistant professor of Organizational Behavior/Human Resource Management in the School of Business & Economics at Wilfrid Laurier University. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Central Florida. Her research interests concern social issues in management including workplace aggression, behavioral ethics, and organizational justice.