Are Counter-Productive Workplace Behaviors and Workplace Deviance Parallel Constructs? A Meta-Analytic Test of a Common Practice

Abstract

Workplace aggression is clearly a pressing issue for modern organizations. However, the manner in which workplace aggression is measured by researchers is much less clear. Among the multitude of aggression constructs the two most common enacted workplace aggression constructs, counterproductive work behaviors (CWBs) and workplace deviance behaviors (WDBs), are of unique concern. Within the literature on enacted workplace aggression, researchers have adopted a common practice of treating CWBs and WDBs as interchangeable in both their operationalization and measurement. The current meta-analysis advances the literature on enacted workplace aggression by evaluating the distinctness of these two focal constructs through the lens of a social-psychological perspective. We do this by comparing the interpersonal and organizational dimensions of CWBs and WDBs across relationships with individual difference and social-situational predictors. Results demonstrate that while there is some overlap between the two constructs in terms of their antecedents, concerning differences arise in the dimensionality of the two constructs when social-situational factors are considered. We also find that the interpersonal and organizational dimensions are more distinct within WDBs than CWBs. We conclude by making recommendations for future research as well as human resource practices aimed at decreasing the frequency and effects of workplace aggression.

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Fig. 1

Notes

  1. 1.

    Berry et al. (2007) did examine the measure used as a moderator, finding some differential effects with the use of Bennet and Robinson’s measure, as opposed to a group including all other measures of workplace aggression

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Thrasher, G.R., Krenn, D.K. & Marchiondo, L.A. Are Counter-Productive Workplace Behaviors and Workplace Deviance Parallel Constructs? A Meta-Analytic Test of a Common Practice. Occup Health Sci (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s41542-020-00065-2

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Keywords

  • Enacted aggression
  • Workplace mistreatment
  • Construct proliferation
  • Actor perspective
  • Workplace deviance
  • Counterproductive workplace behaviors