Journal of Business Ethics 162 (1):191-209 (2020)

Abstract
This paper addresses the potentially interactive effects of descriptive and injunctive norm perceptions on an unethical workplace behavior: counterproductive work behavior perpetration. We draw on the Focus Theory of Normative Conduct and its conceptual distinction between norm types to refine research on this topic. We also test a person-by-environment interaction to determine whether the interactive effects of these norms for CWB are enhanced among employees reporting a stronger need to belong to social groups. In two studies, predictors were assessed in an initial survey and the dependent variable was assessed weeks later. Individuals employed across a range of industries served as participants. In Study 1, descriptive and injunctive norm perceptions of CWB interacted to predict CWB perpetration. This finding was replicated in Study 2. Additionally, Study 2 demonstrated that the interaction between the two norm types was especially strong among individuals high in NTB. Results suggest that to decrease CWB perpetration, organizations may profitably leverage the persuasive effects of “social norms marketing” to alter employee perceptions of the typicality and level of approval for CWBs. This is the first study to demonstrate that both descriptive and injunctive norm perceptions predict CWB perpetration. The demonstrated three-way interaction between the two norm types and NTB advances existing theory regarding the cognitive and motivational mechanisms underlying normative social influence.
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DOI 10.1007/s10551-018-3968-1
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