Research by Cynthia Wang, clinical professor of management and organizations at the Kellogg School, shows the impact of poor workplace conduct. “It is highly costly to organizations, because it slows down efficiency and hurts morale that’s so key for organizational functioning,” she says.

Most studies on workplace conduct focus on individual behavior. However,  negative conduct stems from a more complex soical situations. Researchers discovered that when employees are slighted they “seek to even the score.”

This shows that dishonesty and misconduct may well spread via processes of social contagion like all other observed human behaviours. It is not about bad apples; it is about bad barrels. People will behave poorly when they perceive that their peers are doing similarly. Negative workplace behavior breeds further negative workplace behavior.

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