Deviant and Criminal Behavior in the Workplace

Deviant and Criminal Behavior in the Workplace

Deviant and Criminal Behavior in the Workplace

Deviant and Criminal Behavior in the Workplace


Workplace crimes are never far from the news. From major scandals like Enron to violent crimes committed by co-workers to petty theft of office supplies, deviant and criminal behavior is common in the workplace. Psychological factors are almost always involved when an employee engages in such behavior.

Deviant and Criminal Behavior in the Workplace offers insights at the level of the individual employee and also sheds light on the role organizations themselves may play in fostering such criminal behavior. The volume considers psychological factors involved in theft and fraud, workplace violence, employee discrimination, and sexual harassment. It also analyses a number of variables which can influence such behavior including employee personality, employee emotional processes, experience of occupational stress, organizational culture, organizational injustice, and human resource management practices. The book will be of core interest to those interested in the psychology and sociology of work, organizational behavior, and human resource management.


Several years ago, Allen K. Hess contacted me and asked if I would be interested in editing a book on deviant workplace behavior. Allen, up until his untimely death in 2010, was the Psychology & Crime Series editor for NYU Press. How important a topic is deviant workplace behavior? All one need do is turn on the evening news or read a local newspaper to be reminded of the fact that deviant and criminal behavior are common occurrences in the workplace. Indeed, most employees have either witnessed or engaged in some form of counterproductive, insidious, abhorrent, or illegal behavior while on the job. Be it a CEO who “cooks the books,” an hourly wage employee who “borrows” office supplies, or a disgruntled employee who commits a heinous act of violence, inappropriate behavior at work is pandemic. As Allen once told me, “Crime in the workplace extends from the mailroom to the boardroom.” I believe, as Allen did, that gaining insight into the psychological and organizational causes of deviant and criminal behavior in the workplace will make a significant contribution to a number of disciplines, as well as society in general.

An interaction between psychological and organizational factors is almost always involved when an employee engages in deviant and/or criminal behavior in the workplace. Unfortunately, given the overabundance of psychological factors linked to such behavior in these environments, it is impossible for a single book to address every topic of importance and relevance to the subject. However, a review of the academic literature and popular press will reveal several trends that are informative in terms of ensuring the topics selected for inclusion make a significant contribution.

In chapter 1 of this volume, Randy Hodson and Gary F. Jensen provide a wonderful overview of criminology and the sociology of work in relation to deviant workplace behavior. Two noteworthy points from this chapter are worth mentioning here. First, the authors convincingly point out the fact that research and attention focusing on crime in the workplace is lacking. Second, they note that injustice and abuses of power are frequently at work when deviant workplace behavior occurs. This point resonates throughout this volume.

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