Handbook of American Public Administration
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Handbook of American Public Administration

Edited by Edmund C. Stazyk and H. G. Frederickson

The Handbook of American Public Administration draws on the expertise of established and emerging scholars to provide national and international audiences a comprehensive review of the current state and future direction of theory and practice in US public administration. The authors provide a cross-disciplinary, holistic review of the field and pave an agenda for future research.
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Chapter 13: The “dark side” of the public workplace: counterproductive workplace behavior and environmental negativity in public administration research

Randall S. Davis


Organizational behavior (OB) research in public administration has progressed rapidly since the 1990s. Advances in understanding individual behavior in public organizations have contributed significantly to articulating patterns of effective management in the government and nonprofit context. However, an ominous trend toward increasing hostility, negativity, and violence in the environment of public organizations remains largely unexamined in the public administration OB literature, and the behavioral implications of environmental hostility are largely unknown. This chapter reviews the OB literature in both public administration and the broader social sciences to generate a categorization scheme of the types of behavior examined in OB literature. The chapter then argues that one type of behavior, counterproductive workplace behavior, could increase in response to environmental negativity associated with governance in dark times. Organizational behavior scholarship in public administration could enhance its relevance by examining in more detail the behavioral consequences associated with governance in dark times.

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