What is Deviant Workplace behavior?

Learn about Deviant workplace behavior
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Case breakdown: Movie Office Space

The scene that you just saw shows how Milton (played by Stephen Root) is being continuously being shifted from one cubicle to another. It is being shows that after moving four times, boss again comes to move him to another cubicle. He is now being asked to sit downstairs. Milton feels humiliated when he is asked to take care of the cockroaches.

In this blog, Learning Perspectives explores the meaning of deviant workplace behavior.

What is Deviant Workplace behavior?

The scene that you saw above falls into the category of deviant workplace category. It represents employees being exposed to behavior that isn’t in the employees’ best interest. They intentionally violate established norms and that result in negative consequences for the organization.

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Fewer organizations admit to creating such condoning conditions that encourage and maintain deviant norms. Yet they exist. Employees do report an increase in rudeness and disregard of others by bosses. Generally half of these employees who have suffered this incivility report that it has led them to think about changing jobs and many of them quit their current job.


As with norms in general, individual employees’ antisocial actions are shaped by the group context within which they work. Evidence demonstrates that the antisocial behavior exhibited by a work group is a significant predictor of an individual’s antisocial behavior at work. In other words, deviant workplace of behavior is likely to flourish where it is supported by group norms.

These norms can lead to reduced employee productivity and motivation is likely to suffer.

References: OB by Stephen Robbins


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