Productive and Counter-Productive Behaviors in Organization

Assessing the role of psychology in improving the productivity of work place in an organization, two related terms can be found. These terms are productive and counter-productive behavior. The relation between these terms goes beyond being contradictory to each other, where both terms are related to the organizational outcomes. In the light of the aforementioned, this paper is addressing the issues of productive and counter- productive behavior in organizations and the relation between them.


Productive behavior can take various forms in the organization, the common aspects of which can be seen in its definition. In that regard, productive behavior can be defined as “employee behavior that contributes positively to the goals and objectives of the organization.”(Jex, 2002, p. 88). Productive behavior can take various forms, the common of which include job performance, i.e. behaviors engaged while at work, Organizational citizenship behaviors (OCBs), i.e. performing a job not included formally in the job’s description and at last, innovation and creativity (Jex, 2002, p. 88).

Counter-productive behavior, despite the obvious implications from the term, can take different approaches in its definition. One of the definitions implies that counter-productive behaviour is “any intentional behavior that is deemed by the organization to run counter to its legitimate interests.” (Vardi & Weitz, 2004, p. 77). Counter-productive behavior can be divided into two broad categories, which are property deviance and production deviance. In the first case, the behavior implies misuse of employer assets, whereas in the second case, the behavior involves violating the norms of accomplishing the work (Anderson, 2001, p. 147).


The impact of productive and counter-productive behavior can be seen through a mutual area of influence between the two terms, which is performance. In that regard, the consequences of counter-productive behavior can be seen through aspects such as ineffective performance, which common method of tracing is subjective appraisals. Another outcome of counter-productive behavior is absenteeism, which is simply not attending the work. Additional outcome can be seen through turnover of employees and unsafe behavior (Jex, 2002, p. 145).

The impact of productive behavior, on the other hand, as performance is one of the domains and forms of productive behavior, the impact of such behavior can be seen through the contribution to the organizational goals. Accordingly, productivity is also related to performance effectiveness and efficiency of the work. Other consequences might include the increase of motivation and accordingly the decrease of the forms and the consequences of counter-productive behavior.


The recommendations regarding counter- productive behavior are merely concerned with the causes of such behavior and thus, the chosen strategy might vary according to the specific cause. Generally, common recommendations might include as aspects such as, training interventions, counseling and assistance programs, and progressive discipline, which is a reaction that progressively increases based on the continuation of counter-productive behavior, e.g. warning, suspensions and termination (Jex, 2002, p. 154).

Recommendations regarding productive behavior focus on emphasizing and influencing the different forms of productive behavior. For example, promoting creativity and innovation, the recommendation might include task motivation, talent recruitment, managerial attitudes toward change and etc. The same goes to job performance and OCBs, where common recommendations might include fair treatment, rewards, and etc (Jex, 2002, pp. 113-114).


It can be concluded that productive and counter-productive behaviors are important phenomena in the study of increasing the work place productivity. Both aspects are related to each other, where based on these aspects the performance of the company can be measured.


  1. Anderson, N. (2001). Handbook of industrial, work and organizational psychology. London ; Thousand Oaks, Calif.: SAGE.
  2. Jex, S. M. (2002). Organizational psychology: a scientist-practitioner approach: John Wiley and Sons.
  3. Vardi, Y. a., & Weitz, E. (2004). Misbehavior in organizations : theory, research, and management. Mahwah, N.J.: L. Erlbaum.

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