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The emergence of deviant behaviors in the physical work environment: A study of workers in open offices

Pablo Zoghbi-Manrique-de-Lara (Department of Economics and Management, University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas, Spain)
Maryamsadat Sharifiatashgah (Institute of Tourism and Sustainable Development (TIDES), University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Las Palmas, Spain)

International Journal of Manpower

ISSN: 0143-7720

Article publication date: 18 July 2019

Abstract

Purpose

The purpose of this paper is twofold: first, the relationship between crowding perceptions (i.e. employees’ perceptions of insufficient personal space due to offices’ physical constraints) and deviant workplace behaviors (DWBs) directed at both the organization as a whole (DWB-O) and individuals (DWB-I); and second, privacy invasion from supervisors and peers as a mediator.

Design/methodology/approach

Data were collected from 299 respondents working in open-plan offices at four medium-to-large sized IT-based companies. Drawing on conservation of resources theory, the paper suggests that under crowding conditions employees can perceive the physical workspace as a space-related resource that is threatened leading them to engage in DWBs out of a conservation strategy.

Findings

Structural equation modeling results significantly supported main effects of employees’ crowding perceptions on the two types of DWBs, with privacy invasion from supervisors and peers as full mediator.

Research limitations/implications

The study could suffer from mono-method/source bias, and specificities of the studied IT-based companies and their work can raise concerns about the generalizability of the results.

Practical implications

The findings indicate that a proper physical office arrangement can be a useful tool for managers in combating employee DWB.

Originality/value

To date, the origin of workplace deviance has mainly been investigated in terms of the psychosocial work environment; however, the physical labor conditions (i.e. the layout of buildings, furniture, workspace, air conditioning, workplace density, etc.) have received little systematic attention.

Keywords

Citation

Zoghbi-Manrique-de-Lara, P. and Sharifiatashgah, M. (2019), "The emergence of deviant behaviors in the physical work environment: A study of workers in open offices", International Journal of Manpower, Vol. 40 No. 5, pp. 1012-1026. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJM-09-2018-0307

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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