The following is my review of Ronald Kidwell and Christopher Martin, eds. Managing Organizational Deviance that I’ve posted on Amazon. I use this book in my Master of Public Administration course, PA 522. My basic point in the review and in PA 522 is that behavior is a function of what’s experienced; of antecedents and consequences. I’m a behaviorist!
In this collection of essays and case studies, the causes of deviant, as well as correct/proper, behavior in organizations are described, leading to proposals for reducing the former and inducing the latter. The approach is, essentially, behavioral, identifying antecedents (“root causes”, p. xiv) of behavior which, the contributors contend, reside primarily in organizational structures and processes: “managers would do well to consider the roles [effects] that structure . . . and processes play in [causing] deviant behavior and how these organizational features could be used to effectively channel potential deviance into positive outcomes [behaviors] for organizations” (p. x). Change/modify/reform organizational structures and process and you can thereby reduce badmouthing the organization (Ch. 4), lying, bullying, and harassment in the workplace (Ch. 7, 8), organizational aggression (Ch. 10), and other types of deviant behavior while, at the same time, these changes/modifications/reforms in structures and processes can help induce and sustain behaviors that constitute—in the words of consultant and author, Robert Levering—“great place[s] to work”.
Changing organizational structures and processes is a much more effective way to bring about better behaving personnel than reliance on boards of ethics, education and training in ethics, codes of ethics, and the like. The latter, since Watergate, have become part of the conventional approach to organizational deviance and are known to be largely ineffective. Only by changing “organizational features”—only by changing what personnel experience in the day-by-day execution of their work and obligations—will we optimize the results of our efforts for betterment.