Deviant Workplace Behavior and The Managerial Ethical Dilemmas

During the operation of the enterprise, it is confirmed that ethical work is good work. This statement can be applied to everyone in society. But a real challenge is the situation where the manager or employee should apply the ethical standards. What is happening when those norms and standards are not followed. These ethical dilemmas are part of the challenge of modern society.

Deviant Workplace Behavior

Deviant workplace behavior is unethical behavior that violates the organizational norms for what is right or wrong. It is divided into four categories.

  • Working Deviations
  • Property-related Deviations
  • Personal Aggression
  • Deviations Caused by Social Interactions

The working deviations cause little organizational harm by the employees in the production process. And these deviations are expressed through earlier leaving of the workplace, too long breaks, deliberately slow work and scattering of resources.

Property-related deviations can be more harmful to the organization. They are including the unethical behavior of the employees. As an example of property-related behavior, we can mention sabotage of equipment, acceptance of failures, untrue displaying of the working hours and stealing from the company.

Personal Aggression causes unethical, hostile, aggressive and harmful behavior towards other employees in their interpersonal relationships. Here we can mention things like verbal abuse, stealing from the collaborators, endangering them or even sexual harassment.

The deviations by social interactions are causing minimal unethical behaviors with an intention to harm the employers in the interpersonal interactions. For example: bias, blaming co-workers and competing in domains that do not bring benefits.

These are some of the deviations that can occur in one company, but when we are talking about them we need to see the ethical dilemmas that the manager is facing.

The Managerial Ethical Dilemmas

Among the legal standards set out in the area of codification law and the personal standards that are relating to the area of free choice, we can find the social standards from the area of ethics.

Given the fact that social or ethical standards are not codified, disagreements and dilemmas often arise asking what is the right behavior.

An ethical dilemma is a situation that looks for a decision between two opposing options, although the situation offers potential benefits for the person or the organization or in some cases for both of them, in the end, it can be considered as unethical.

Often this is a situation in which action had to be taken, but for that situation, there is not a clear consensus about what is wrong and what is right. The burden is on the individual (manager) to make a good choice.

An example of an ethical dilemma is when the promotion that the manager is going to make is based on race or religion. Another example can be a gift for making a decision in favor of the giver.

The Harvard Business Review made a research about the most common ethical dilemmas that the managers are facing. Based on that 12.8% of the ethical dilemmas are conflicts with the presidents of the organization, 12% are conflicts with the consumers and 11.5% with the employees.

The behavior of the president of the company is the primary guide in the ethical dilemmas that the managers are facing. The managers are feeling that they have pressure from the presidents into starting unethical activities. For example, supporting wrong decisions, signing false documents, finishing business with persons that are connected with the person that is on the top of the company.


Every day we are facing different dilemmas, but not all of them have so much impact on the next things that are going to happen. In this article, we tried with simple words to cover these two topics and to show what are some of the ethical dilemmas that the manager is facing on a daily basis and what is the impact of that decisions.