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Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology

For a Special Issue on
Preventing Counterproductive Work Behavior

Manuscript deadline
30 December 2022

Cover image - European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology

Special Issue Editor(s)

Roberta Fida, Norwich Business School, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
[email protected]

Rosalind Searle, Adam Smith Business School, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, UK
[email protected]

Deanne N. Den Hartog, University of Amsterdam Business School
[email protected]

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Preventing Counterproductive Work Behavior

Counterproductive and misbehavior in the workplace are topics that resonate across the world. More extreme examples of corruption include Siemens, Airbus’ and Boeing and the irregularities relating to 800,000 Volkswagen cars, culminating in extensive fines (Berghoff, 2018; Bushey, 2021; Katz & Dalton, 2020; Sharman & Brunsden, 2015). Academia itself has not been spared (https://retractionwatch.com) exemplified in profound fraud cases such as the well-known example of Stapel (Bhattacharjee, 2013). Not all counterproductive work behaviors (CWB) are as extreme in nature, however, even less severe transgressions can have significant consequences and sadly, the many examples of employees’ CWB indicates these are far from rare incidents. Irrespective of their severity, CWB is a widespread phenomenon creating serious concerns for organizations across the globe.

Several studies have clearly highlighted that these types of behaviors are not the prerogative of ruthless and unprincipled individuals (Bandura, 2016; Moore & Gino, 2013; Newman et al., 2020), instead, evidence reveals how under certain conditions, “ordinary” people can also engage in counterproductive work behavior (Bandura, 2016; Moore & Gino, 2013; Newman et al., 2020; Rice & Searle, 2022; Welsh et al., 2015; Xi et al., 2021). In addition, extant literature also shows that so called “bad apples” do not necessarily engage in misbehavior (Belschak et al., 2015; De Hoogh et al., 2021) and how the routinization of counterproductive work behavior is not a linear process (Chugh & Kern, 2016; Gaspar et al., 2015; Zhong & Robinson, 2021).

While recent research has identified key social and psychological processes that explain the engagement and routinization of counterproductive work behavior (Belschak et al., 2018; Chugh & Kern, 2016; Fida et al., 2015, 2018; Griep & Vantilborgh, 2018; Moore & Gino, 2013; Ogunfowora, Nguyen, et al., 2021; Searle & Rice, 2020; Welsh et al., 2015), less is known about the processes, practices and conditions that might deter, prevent or ameliorate such processes.

Moral disengagement, for example, plays a key role in legitimizing misconduct (see the recent meta-analysis and literature review Newman et al., 2020; Ogunfowora, Nguyen, et al., 2021). It is a social-cognitive process that temporarily silences more typical moral standards. Through the use of moral disengagement strategies, such as moral justification, diffusion of responsibility and euphemistic language, misbehaviors become cognitively reframed to make them more palatable, enabling people to engage in deplorable behaviors without the usual feelings of guilt and requirement to make reparations (e.g., Bandura, 2016; Moore & Gino, 2013; Newman et al., 2019). Although most studies have focused on the effect of moral disengagement, the question of how to mitigate the power of these types of processes has been largely overlooked. This is an important theoretical concern because processes including moral disengagement are powerful, progressive and personally transformative (Paciello et al., 2022). Critically, they diminish the role of self-regulation, allowing misbehaviors to be routinely performed with little of the usual anguish (Bandura, 2002).

Current work has highlighted the importance of both contextual and personal deterrents. For example, ethical leaders can reduce followers’ engagement in CWB and moral disengagement (Moore et al., 2019; Ogunfowora, Maerz, et al., 2021; Peng & Kim, 2020), and can promote morally courageous behaviors when misconduct is witnessed at work (Ogunfowora, Maerz, et al., 2021). Moral identity is also an important individual dimension that is negatively associated with moral disengagement and misbehavior (Detert et al., 2008; Vadera & Pathki, 2021). Given the complexity of counterproductive work behavior there is the need to further understand the role played by both contextual and individual characteristics in preventing the occurrence of these behaviors and how to mitigate the susceptibility of the routinization of counterproductive work behavior through the legitimizing processes as moral disengagement.

Our proposed special issue aims to advance knowledge about these prevention processes at micro, meso, and macro levels that can mitigate and avert the enactment but also the routinization of counterproductive work behavior. We are particularly interested in understanding these processes from multi-disciplinary and multi-method perspectives. We welcome submissions which consider the complexity of the phenomenon, to provide a more nuanced examination of how to thwart and diminish these behaviors. We are interested in work that explores the antecedence of their early development and offer approaches to their detection and de-railment before they become more habitual. We strive to develop novel conceptualizations, and provide fresh empirical perspectives and advance methodological approaches that can enrich our insights and understandings of these behaviors through (but not limited to) the following questions:

  • How can we detect events (triggers) leading up to the enactment of counterproductive work behavior before they become more serious and costly? and what we can do to prevent the emergence of a slippery slope?
  • What role do emotions play in the enactment, diffusion and prevention of counterproductive work behavior? And how do they interact with the broader social context?
  • How do the characteristics and activities leaders contribute to the development, and mitigation of counterproductive work behavior in a workplace? What role does relationship quality between leader and followers play in this process?
  • What are the micro processes of moral disengagement and moral licensing that contribute to, or ameliorate the enactment of counterproductive work behavior? Are there additional mechanisms that also play a role?
  • What are the group factors and processes that deter the enactment of individuals’ counterproductive work behavior, and how can these group-level dimensions buffer the effect of moral disengagement?
  • What part does Human Resource Management policies and practices have in reducing counterproductive work behaviors? Are there other contextual factors that need to be considered?
  • How does counterproductive work behavior become routinized in social and organizational contexts? What can be done to stop “the rot” from spreading?
  • How can we better reduce the enactment of counterproductive work behavior at micro, meso and or macro levels? Which policies and practices can assist? What are the significant factors that can could stop the “slippery slope” phenomenon?

The above list is not exhaustive. We are welcoming papers which make a substantial contribution to understanding how to prevent misbehavior at work. We strongly encourage interested authors to submit a brief abstract of their intended submission to the Guest Editors. This will allow to offer preliminary feedback about the potential fit with the special issue and suggestions for potentially improving the fit and scope of the intended study.

Submission deadline: December 30th, 2022

Submission Instructions

We encourage submissions of empirical papers, but strong conceptual and theoretical papers are also welcome. The papers submitted to the special issue will adhere to the usual requirements in EJWOP (e.g., no cross-sectional self-report studies, no student samples). For further details, please visit:  https://www.tandfonline.com/action/authorSubmission?show=instructions&journalCode=pewo20

Papers should be submitted by the 30th of December 2022 through the journal’s online Submission Portal (http://mc.manuscriptcentral.com/pewo), as a submission for this Special Issue.

For more information or to discuss ideas for the Special Issue, please contact any of the Guest Editors: Roberta Fida ([email protected]); Rosalind Searle ([email protected]); Deanne N. Den Hartog ([email protected]).

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article

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