Wanting More, Getting Less: Gaming Performance Measurement as a Form of Deviant Workplace Behavior

Journal of Business Ethics 157 (3):753-773 (2019)


Investigating the causes of unethical behaviors in academia, such as scientific misconduct, has become a highly important research subject. The current performance measurement practices are frequently referred to as being responsible for scientists’ unethical behaviors. We conducted qualitative semi-structured interviews with different stakeholders of the higher education system to analyze the influence of performance measurement on scientists’ behavior. We followed a three-step coding procedure and found that the participants described a variety of positive behavioral consequences but mainly negative behavioral consequences of current performance measurement practices in academia; that scientists’ behavior can be described as gaming performance measurement ; and that gaming performance measurement shares the same characteristics as deviant workplace behavior. We discuss that gaming performance measurement has not been considered as a type of deviant workplace behavior in the previous literature. Furthermore, we draw from research on deviant workplace behavior and goal setting to discuss psychological processes that may underlie gaming performance measurement. Our results indicate the importance of connecting literature on deviant workplace behavior and goal setting to advance our understanding of gaming performance measurement.

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