Bending the rules with prudence : from dangerous norm to necessary adaption

Zolin, Roxanne & Sekerka, Leslie (2008) Bending the rules with prudence : from dangerous norm to necessary adaption. In Australian Association of Professional and Applied Ethics National Conference 2008, 10-11 June 2008, Brisbane, Australia.

View at publisher


With greater complexity, increased pressure to perform, fewer resources, and an ever increasing tide of regulation, rule bending is used to achieve task completion in the workplace. This practice can become a prevalent organizational norm, despite the fact that breaking "the rules" is deemed officially unacceptable. We pose this research question: How do motives and the use of prudential judgment influence rule bending and perceived threat to the organization? We present findings from a survey of 96 U.S. Department of Defense employees. Findings showed that those who bend rules to perform tasks were more likely to view rule bending as a threat to their organization than employees who used personal motives. Therefore, rule bending for personal gain can deplete the value placed on rule adherence, leading to incongruence between espoused organizational values and values in use. We also learned that employees who viewed rule bending as a threat to their organization were more likely to consider others, a dimension of prudential judgment. Thus in a complex environment, organizations with more formalized the rules may be more prone to a culture of rule bending. Links are drawn to Complexity Leadership Theory, showing how prudential judgment in management can enable adaptation by disentangling conflicts between job performance and rule adherence.

Impact and interest:

Search Google Scholar™

Citation counts are sourced monthly from Scopus and Web of Science® citation databases.

These databases contain citations from different subsets of available publications and different time periods and thus the citation count from each is usually different. Some works are not in either database and no count is displayed. Scopus includes citations from articles published in 1996 onwards, and Web of Science® generally from 1980 onwards.

Citations counts from the Google Scholar™ indexing service can be viewed at the linked Google Scholar™ search.

Full-text downloads:

368 since deposited on 08 Apr 2009
14 in the past twelve months

Full-text downloads displays the total number of times this work’s files (e.g., a PDF) have been downloaded from QUT ePrints as well as the number of downloads in the previous 365 days. The count includes downloads for all files if a work has more than one.

ID Code: 19488
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: No
Keywords: Ethics, Rule Bending, Complexity, Leadership Theory
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300) > Business and Management not elsewhere classified (150399)
Divisions: Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Business Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Current > Schools > School of Management
Deposited On: 08 Apr 2009 03:19
Last Modified: 10 Aug 2011 17:21

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page