Management Challenges and Symptoms
Edited by Janice Langan-Fox, Cary L. Cooper and Richard J. Klimoski
Chapter 17: Understanding and Deterring Employee Theft with Organizational Justice
Edward C. Tomlinson and Jerald Greenberg The unauthorized taking or using of company property for personal use by employees, known as employee theft, is a serious problem in organizations. It has been estimated that 60 percent (Boye and Jones, 1997) to 75 percent (McGurn, 1988) of employees have stolen from their employers at least once, and that some employees engage in such behavior routinely (Sandberg, 2003). Even in the wake of a series of audacious corporate scandals that have stimulated attention to ethical workplace behavior in recent years (Markham, 2005), employee theft has not faded from the scene. Indeed, as many as 11 percent of workers still indicate having witnessed acts of theft by other employees during 2005 (Ethics Resource Center, 2005). Moreover, the impact of employee theft has been considerable. In retail stores alone, for example, employee theft is estimated to have cost over $15 billion in 2001 (Hollinger and Davis, 2002). So profound are these losses that over 30 percent of business failures have been attributed to employee theft (Snyder and Blair, 1989). Unlike other prevalent and costly forms of dysfunctional organizational behavior (e.g. uncivil and aggressive behavior), theft is a crime (Hollinger and Clark, 1983). As such, it has prompted traditional eﬀorts at criminal mitigation by organizations. This occurs at three diﬀerent points – before hire, while employed, and upon termination. First, to predict and screen out individuals who are inclined to steal before they are hired, various selection instruments have been used (e.g. Jones, 1990)...
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