Tue, 21 Jun



Why people engage in counterproductive work behaviour and what can prevent this?

Understanding the underlying psychological and social processes. NOTE: DATE CHANGE!

Why people engage in counterproductive work behaviour and what can prevent this?

Time & Location

21 Jun, 09:00 CEST – 24 Jun, 17:00 CEST

Amsterdam, 1012 WX Amsterdam, Netherlands

About the Event

Date and place of meeting

Our preference was to hold the SGM as a face-to-face meeting at the University of Amsterdam in March 2022. However, COVID-19 related restrictions means the organising team has decided to move the date to 21-24 June to ensure a face-to-face meeting. Please email impact@eawopimpact.org for further information

Conference Theme and Scope

Counterproductive work behaviour (CWB) refers to workplace behaviours which aim to harm the organisation and its stakeholders. This is a phenomenon that resonates across a number of sectors. 

The more extreme examples of corruption include Siemens, Airbus’ and Boeing and the irregularities relating to 800,000 Volkswagen cars, in all leading to billions in fines (Berghoff, 2018; Bushey, 2021; Katz & Dalton, 2020; Sharman & Brunsden, 2015). Also academia has not been spared from these incidents (https://retractionwatch.com) as exemplified by profound cases of fraud such as the well-known example of Stapel (Bhattacharjee, 2013). Not all CWB is as extreme in nature, however, even less severe transgressions can have significant consequences and sadly, the many examples of employees’ CWB indicates that these are far from rare incidents.

Irrespective of the severity of these activities, CWB is a widespread phenomenon creating serious concerns for organisations across the globe. CWB includes actions such as poor attendance, sabotage, the misuse of information, time or resources, theft or property destruction, physical and verbal aggression. Several studies in the field of Industrial Psychology and Management have shown that these types of behaviour are not the prerogative of ruthless and unprincipled individuals (Bandura, 2016; Moore & Gino, 2013; Newman et al., 2019), instead, evidence indicates that under certain conditions, ordinary people may also engage in CWB (e.g., Bandura, 2016; Moore & Gino, 2013; Newman et al., 2019). Research has started to identify the key social and psychological characteristics that affect CWB, as well as several processes that may underlie the enactment of CWB (Belschak et al., 2018; Chugh & Kern, 2016; Fida et al., 2015; Griep & Vantilborgh, 2018; Moore & Gino, 2013; Searle & Rice, 2020; 2018) and potentially leads to the routinisation of unethical behaviour (Fida, et al., 2018; Welsh et al., 2015). For example, moral disengagement ‘weakens or eliminates moral self-restraints over detrimental practices without self-censure’ (Bandura, 2018, p. 2).

Through the use of moral disengagement strategies misbehaviours are cognitively reframed to make them more palatable, enabling people to engage in deplorable behaviour without the usual feelings of guilt and requirement of reparation (e.g., Bandura, 2016; Moore & Gino, 2013; Newman et al., 2019). This phenomenon can have severe consequences in practice. For example, such justification mechanisms can also facilitate different forms of cyber-misconduct, which are on the rise, or health care professionals’ sexual misconduct and abuse of patients and colleagues (Searle, 2019). As highlighted by Bandura ‘the advent of the Internet ushered in a ubiquitous vehicle for disengaging moral self-sanctions from transgressive conduct. The Internet was designed as a highly decentralized system that defies regulation. Anybody can get into the act, and nobody is in charge’ (Bandura, 2016, p.68).

While the importance of developing a better understanding of CWB is clear, significant gaps in our academic knowledge remain, and in addition, there are disconnects in the exchange of knowledge and perspectives between researchers and other stakeholders, including practitioners and policy makers. The aim of this Small Group Meeting (SGM) is to: (i) advance empirical and conceptual understanding of important processes underling the enactment of CWB; and (ii) bring together researchers, practitioners and policymakers to inform and set new agendas towards better means to detect, prevent, and mitigate CWB, and ameliorate their consequences with the ultimate aim to support the development of more fulfilling and ethical societies.

Together with the moral and economic implications of CWB for the organisation, the normalisation of moral decline has additional costs and consequences for society, causing the wide-spread breakdown of law and order. This SGM seeks to explore the processes leading to CWB at micro (e.g., anger, moral disengagement, moral licensing), meso (e.g., group loyalty, authentic and (un)ethical leadership), and macro (e.g., organisational culture, policy) levels to enhance the means of mitigating and preventing the enactment as well as routinisation of CWB. 

This SGM aims to develop novel conceptual, empirical and methodological advances in our understanding of these behaviours through (but not limited to) the following questions:

  • How can we detect events leading up to the enactment of CWB before they become more serious and costly?
  • What role do emotions play in the enactment, diffusion and prevention of CWB?
  • How do the leader’s characteristics and activities contribute to the development or mitigation of CWB?
  • What are the micro processes of moral disengagement and licensing that contribute to or ameliorate the enactment of CWB? Which additional mechanisms may play a role?
  • What are the group factors and processes that contribute to or mitigate the enactment of CWB?
  • What role do Human Resource Management policies and practices and other contextual factors play in amplifying or reducing the enactment of CWB?
  • How does CWB become routinised in social and organisational contexts? What can be done to stop “the rot” from spreading?
  • How can we better reduce the enactment of CWB at micro, meso and or macro levels? Which policies and practices can help there and what are the factors that could stop the “slippery slope” phenomenon?


Prof Roberta Fida – University of East Anglia, UK, r.fida@uea.ac.uk  

Prof Rosalind Searle – University of Glasgow, UK, rosalind.searle@glasgow.ac.uk

Prof Deanne den Hartog – University of Amsterdam, NL, d.n.denhartog@uva.nl

Meeting format, location and date

The SGM will take place over three days with sessions organised thematically. The program will include academic research talks as well as practitioners/policy makers talk and poster sessions. Ample time will be provided for discussions and networking. In particular, the extended discussions planned at the end of each session will participants the space to co-generate questions and to discuss the next steps to bridge the gap between research, organisational practice, and policy. 

There will also be keynote presentations: Prof Celia Moore (Imperial College London, UK), Dr Karen Renaud (Strathclyde University, UK).

The format of this SGM (25-30 participants) is designed to foster extensive discussions, constructive feedback as well as research collaboration around counterproductive work behaviour. The presentations will be selected through a competitive process, in which submissions are pre-screened by the organizing committee and then sent out for double blind peer-review. We are also planning to give two awards: one to the best Policy/Practitioner-focused Paper and one to the best Early Career Paper.

Provisional programme UPDATED 11 JANUARY 2022

Day 1 – 21 June 2022

  • 16:00 Registration and Informal welcome reception
  • 16.30-17.30 Setting the scene - bridging the gap. Introduction and Aim of the SGM
  • 17:30 Reception

Day 2  – 22 June 2022

  • 09.00 – 09:30 Formal welcome: Introduction and Aim of the SGM
  • 09.30 - 10.40 Keynote 1
  • 11.00-12.00 Research talks and policy makers’ and practitioners’ talks
  • 13.00-14.15 Interactive Poster session
  • 14.30-16.00 Research talks and policy makers’ and practitioners’ talks
  • 16.30-17.30 Extended discussion: bridging the gap

Day 3 – 23 June 2022

  • 9.00-10.10 Keynote 2
  • 10:30: 12:00 Research talks and policy makers’ and practitioners’ talks
  • 13.00-14.15 Interactive Poster session
  • 14.30-15.30 Research talks and Policy makers’ and practitioners’ talks
  • 16.00-17.00 Extended discussion: bridging the gap
  • 20.00 Conference Dinner

Day 4 – 24 June 2022

  • 09:30 – 10:30 Interactive discussion: bridging the gap
  • 11.00-12.00 Final Discussion: Next Steps and SGM Awards

Conference fees

The conference fee is €100 EUR for all participants (reduced student fee is €50 EUR). 

This registration fee includes two lunches, all coffee breaks, a welcome reception and a conference dinner.

Submission of abstracts

Participants are invited to submit paper extended abstracts (up to 2,000 words) by November 15th, 2021 – find out more here: https://www.eawopimpact.org/amsterdam-event-march-2022


Bandura, A. (2016). Moral disengagement: How people do harm and live with themselves. Worth Publishers.

Bandura, A. (2018). A commentary on moral disengagement: The rhetoric and the reality. American Journal of Psychology, 131(2), 246–251.

Belschak, F. D., Muhammad, R. S., & Den Hartog, D. N. (2018). Birds of a feather can butt heads: When Machiavellian employees work with Machiavellian leaders. Journal of Business Ethics, 151(3), 613–626.

Berghoff, H. (2018). “Organised irresponsibility”? The Siemens corruption scandal of the 1990s and 2000s. Business History, 60(3), 423–445. https://doi.org/10.1080/00076791.2017.1330332

Bhattacharjee, Y. (2013). The Mind of a Con Man. The New York Times Magazine. https://www.nytimes.com/2013/04/28/magazine/diederik-stapels-audacious-academic-fraud.html

Bushey, C. (2021). Boeing to pay $2.5bn to resolve criminal case over 737 Max crashes. Financial Times. https://www.ft.com/content/1e64a9ea-4659-4513-b82f-0a4b5e7cae1c

Chugh, D., & Kern, M. C. (2016). A dynamic and cyclical model of bounded ethicality. Research in Organizational Behavior, 36, 85–100.

Fida, R., Paciello, M., Tramontano, C., Fontaine, R. G., Barbaranelli, C., & Farnese, M. L. (2015). An integrative approach to understanding counterproductive work behavior: The roles of stressors, negative emotions, and moral disengagement. Journal of Business Ethics, 130(1), 131–144. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-014-2209-5

Fida, R., Tramontano, C., Paciello, M., Ghezzi, V., & Barbaranelli, C. (2018). Understanding the Interplay Among Regulatory Self-Efficacy, Moral Disengagement, and Academic Cheating Behaviour During Vocational Education: A Three-Wave Study. Journal of Business Ethics, 153(3), 725–740. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-016-3373-6

Griep, Y., & Vantilborgh, T. (2018). Let’s get cynical about this! Recursive relationships between psychological contract breach and counterproductive work behaviour. Journal of Occupational and Organizational Psychology, 91(2), 421–429.

Katz, B., & Dalton, M. (2020). Airbus Agrees to Monitoring in $4 Billion Settlement of Bribery Charges. The Wall Street Journal. https://www.wsj.com/articles/airbus-bribery-charges-unveiled-after-4-billion-settlement-11580480153

Moore, C., & Gino, F. (2013). Ethically adrift: How others pull our moral compass from true North, and how we can fix it. Research in Organizational Behavior, 33, 53–77. https://doi.org/https://doi.org/10.1016/j.riob.2013.08.001

Newman, A., Le, H., North-Samardzic, A., & Cohen, M. (2019). Moral Disengagement at Work: A Review and Research Agenda. Journal of Business Ethics. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-019-04173-0

Searle, R. H., & Rice, C. (2020). Making an impact in healthcare contexts: insights from a mixed-methods study of professional misconduct. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology, 1–12.

Sharman, A., & Brunsden, J. (2015). Volkswagen scandal spills beyond diesel. Financial Times. https://www.ft.com/content/15cb2940-8305-11e5-8095-ed1a37d1e096

Welsh, D. T., Ordóñez, L. D., Snyder, D. G., & Christian, M. S. (2015). The slippery slope: How small ethical transgressions pave the way for larger future transgressions. Journal of Applied Psychology, 100(1), 114–127. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0036950

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