This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

Counterproductive behavior's impact on external stakeholders' decisions: Does "I'm sorry" remedy deviance?




Johnson, Brandon

Type of Degree





Counterproductive work behaviors (CWBs) are acts that hinder or are intended to hinder the objectives of organizations or their members. To date, several studies have examined the organizational and interpersonal consequences of counterproductive work behaviors, as well as the interaction of personality traits in the prediction of such behaviors (e.g., Berry, Ones, & Sackett, 2007; Sackett & DeVore, 2001). However, the current literature’s focus on prediction of counterproductive work behaviors has left opportunities to investigate practical interventions when such behaviors manifest in organizations. The present study examines external stakeholders’ (i.e., customers) decision-making process following negative experiences; specifically, it examines the role of apologizing as an intervention to experienced CWBs. Thomas and Millar (2008) suggest that apologies regulate and maintain social functioning following any breach of social trust. Conflict is inevitable, but the way it is managed is a determinant of its consequences (Fehr & Gelfand, 2010). Because decision outcomes are viewed as positive or negative based on relationships to a neutral reference outcome, the current study hypothesized that apologizing will positively impact preference in a decision-making scenario. Four hundred and forty-eight undergraduate participants responded to one of six possible decision-making scenarios with a binary structure of choice outcomes. Results were statistically significant for the use of an apology as an intervention. Possible reasons for this finding are discussed.