From individual deviance to collective corruption: A social influence model of the spread of deviance in organisations

Wellan, Jackie M. (2004) From individual deviance to collective corruption: A social influence model of the spread of deviance in organisations. In Bailey, C., Cabrera, D., & Buys, L. (Eds.) Social Change in the 21st Century Conference; Centre for Social Change Research; Queensland University of Technology.

PDF (84kB)


The consequences of corruption in organisations are pervasive and severe. As well as threatening the well-being of individual employees and the effective functioning of organisations and industries, corruption can erode the moral fabric of society as a whole. Perspectives on corruption have highlighted the critical role that normative factors play in developing microcosms that support and maintain corrupt activities. There has been a relative lack of interest, however, in the mechanisms underlying how corrupt actions that initially violate norms regarding acceptable work behaviour gain the social support necessary to become embedded features of the work environment. This paper adopts a social influence framework to explain how deviant acts that start out as isolated incidences enacted by a minority of individuals in an organisation can, under certain conditions, become day-to-day organisational procedures and practices executed through the coordinated efforts of numerous employees. The paper explores the cognitive and psychological processes that underlie the powerful influence of deviant individuals on work groups and the collective properties of groups such as climate, norms, and culture. Strategic implications for the prevention of corruption are discussed in relation to several key factors that moderate the effects of deviants on the attitudes and actions of other group members. This approach also links in well at a practical level with several existing and widely used corruption-prevention strategies.

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:

1,128 since deposited on 21 Dec 2004
64 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: 649
Item Type: Conference Paper
Refereed: Yes
ISBN: 1741070813
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Social Change (160805)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > COMMERCE MANAGEMENT TOURISM AND SERVICES (150000) > BUSINESS AND MANAGEMENT (150300) > Organisational Planning and Management (150312)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > QUT Business School
Past > Research Centres > Centre for Social Change Research
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2004 Jackie M. Wellan
Deposited On: 21 Dec 2004 00:00
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2012 09:42

Export: EndNote | Dublin Core | BibTeX

Repository Staff Only: item control page