Agreeableness and Conscientiousness as Antecedents of Deviant Behavior in Workplace

Article excerpt

Abstract

In recent years, there has been an increase in the interest of workplace deviant behavior (WDB) among industrial and organizational psychologists. Many scholars believe that WDB decreases overall organizational productivity. The main purpose of this study was to investigate the relationship of both agreeableness and conscientiousness (two factors of big five model of personality traits) with deviant behavior. The study also looked at the role of two demographic factors (gender and age) on deviant behavior in workplace. Data were collected from 212 subjects who were working as civil servants in Malaysia using a set of questionnaire that measures the variables studied. The results showed that personality traits predicted workplace deviant behavior. There were negative relationships between agreeableness and conscientiousness with workplace deviance. Although the findings of the present study showed differences in WDB between subjects with different age levels, it was unable to find differences in WDB between subjects with different gender. Implications for future research are discussed.

Keywords: workplace deviance, agreeableness, conscientiousness, demographic factors, industrial and organizational psychology

1. Introduction

Workplace deviant behavior (WDB) is an important topic for organizational researchers and practitioners because of its increasing occurrence and potential consequences (Spector and Fox, 2005). In recent years, it has also generated high interest among industrial organizational psychologists because of its pervasiveness in organizations. Billions of dollars were lost each year as a result of workplace deviance. The prevalence of workplace deviance is therefore costly to both organizations and individuals (Bennett and Robinson, 2003). When employees engage in workplace deviant behavior, these behaviors can have detrimental effects on the organizations. For instance, organizations lost up to$200 billion dollars per year from employee theft, $4.2 billion for violence, and $5.3 billion for employees' recreational web surfing (Greenberg, 1997).

Employees who are targets of deviance may experience more turnover, damaged self-esteem, increased insecurity at work, also psychological and physical pain. Therefore, the discussion above illustrated that the impact of these behaviors are important and serious thus need to be investigated by organizational researchers (Bennett and Robinson, 2003). However, a large proportion of research on behavior at work has focused on desirable behaviors such as organizational citizenship or prosaically behaviors (Robinson and Bennett, 1995). A large number of empirical studies done to date have focused on causes or predictors of workplace deviance, some of them have examined potential antecedents of workplace deviance (Omar et al., 2011). Although, much of the past research that examines predictors of workplace deviance has focused on situational factors (job stress, job satisfaction, organizational justice) investigating the personal factors such as personality traits as predictors of WDB is also important (Farhadi et al., 2011).

Based on the potential antecedents of deviant behavior, Bennett and Robinson (2003) conceptualized deviant behavior as a reflection of individual personality. They believed that deviant behavior as a reflection of personality refers to predicting negative behavior from stable individual differences. Also, theory of planned behavior (Ajzen, 1991) stated that individual differences can be used to explain the function of behavior which influences the occurrence of deviant behavior in workplace (Cullen and Sackett, 2003). According to mentioned theory (e.g., XXX), personality can influence the occurrence of deviant behavior. Specifically, personality can influence the belief components associated with the attitude towards a given negative behavior.

Despite numerous studies in this area that have been carried out in Western countries, only a few have been conducted in Asian countries particularly, Malaysia. …