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Litzky, Eddleston & Kidder, 2006


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Litzky, Eddleston and Kidder


The Good, the Bad, and the Misguided:
How Managers Inadvertently Encourage Deviant Behaviors by Barrie E. Litzky, Kimberly A. Eddleston, and Deborah L. Kidder*

Executive Overview

Recent estimates of the costs associated with deviant behavior in the workplace are staggering. While part of the managerial function requires the establishment of rules and policies that promote good customer service and product consistency, managers who lead with a firm hand or place too much pressure on sales quotas, may be unknowingly contributing to their employees’ deviant behaviors. Managers must learn to identify the role that they play in triggering employee deviance. Once recognized, there is much that managers can do to ameliorate the triggers that encourage otherwise honest employees to engage in deviant behavior.


“I wouldn’t say what I did was unethical. Rather, it was more, say, questionable. But hey, my manager says, ‘The customer is always right.’ So basically, I was following her orders.” “Come on – everybody does it. It’s almost expected. I bet even my manager did it when he had my job.” “Considering how much money I bring into this place, I deserve it. They should be paying me more anyway.”

anagers often face employees like these who try to justify their actions after being caught behaving inappropriately. Some managers may terminate these employees in an attempt to rid the organization of such unscrupulous individuals. But personality alone is a rather poor predictor of deviant behavior.1 In fact, 60 percent of all employees engage in theft: 30 percent when presented with an opportunity to steal and 30 percent when they have found a way to steal after actively searching for an opportunity.2 Furthermore, in a national poll from the late 1990s, 48 percent of workers admitted to cutting corners on quality

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