Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Examining Organizational Cronyism as an Antecedent of Workplace Deviance in Public Sector Organizations

Academic journal article Public Personnel Management

Examining Organizational Cronyism as an Antecedent of Workplace Deviance in Public Sector Organizations

Article excerpt

Introduction

An antimcritocracy activity that has attracted the attention of researchers in recent years is organizational cronyism, which is the bestowing of privileges to friends, colleagues, or relatives on the basis of relationships and association rather than on actual performance standards (Khatri & Tsang, 2003; Khatri, Tsang, & Begley, 2006; Turhan, 2014). When organizational cronyism exists, certain employees may be supported on the basis of relationships and connections, whereas others may be discriminated against. Thus, such cronyistic relationships have the potential to damage the wellbeing of an organization as well as its employees and promote a sense of injustice and inequality in the workplace (Yan & Bei, 2009). It has been demonstrated that if there is cronyism and nepotism inside an organization, the out-group members have low job satisfaction, low organization commitment, and low morale (Arasli, Bavik, & Ekiz, 2006; Padgett & Morris, 2005). All these negatives have a long-term negative effect on organizational performance (Khatri, 1999).

Realizing the negative impacts of organizational cronyism, public management researchers have also aired concerns about its impact on organizational functioning. For instance, Condrey (2002) raised concerns about cronyism and favoritism in the aftermath of diminished role of Georgia's central personnel authority. Similarly, Diefenbach (2009) argued that new public management practices are encouraging organizational cronyism, moral cowardice, and sycophancy. Despite these recent concerns on organizational cronyism by public management researchers, we lack understanding of behavioral reactions to organizational cronyism. And how perceptions of organizational cronyism translate into behavioral outcomes. In the current research, we aim to address this gap to demonstrate the relationship between perceived organizational cronyism and employees' reactions, that is, deviant workplace behavior (DWB). While testing this main relationship between organizational cronyism and DWB, wc also aim to explore the underlying mechanism between organizational cronyism and DWB; thus answering the question of how organizational cronyism translates into DWB. We argue that the mechanism through which organizational cronyism results in DWB can be explained by social exchange theory (Adams, 1965; Blau, 1964). Specifically, employees perceptions of cronyism and preferential treatment result into breach of the psychological contract--employee's perception regarding the extent to which the organization has failed to fulfill its promises or obligations (Robinson & Rousseau, 1994) and the breach feeling in turn results into DWB (Greenberg, 1990; Matthijs Bal, Chiaburu, & Jansen, 2010; Uhl-Bien & Maslyn, 2003; Zhao, Wayne, Glibkowski, & Bravo, 2007).

Our research contributes to literature in many ways. First, Previous studies have analyzed the attitudinal outcomes to organizational cronyism (Arasli et al., 2006; Padgett & Morris, 2005). According to best of our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the behavioral reactions of organizational cronyism in a public sector context. By doing so, we highlight the negative behavioral outcomes of merit violations which tend to be higher in public sector organizations (Campbell, Im, & Jeong, 2014; Nasir & Bashir, 2012). Second, by exploring the underlying mechanism between organizational cronyism and DWB, we provide a more nuanced view of how perceptions of organizational cronyism translate into employees' reactions. This understanding is important for public managers to fully combat the detrimental effects of organizations cronyism. As absence of merit in public sector organizations results in an environment that is characterized by injustice with high turnover intentions, job stress, and negative word of mouth (Asunakutlu & Avci, 2010; Arasli & Turner, 2008; Turhan, 2014). …

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