The Paradox of Group Citizenship and Constructive Deviance: A Resolution of Environmental Dynamism and Moral Justification

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2020 Nov 12;17(22):8371. doi: 10.3390/ijerph17228371.


Previous research on antecedents to constructive deviance remains scattered and inclusive. Our study conceptualizes constructive deviance from the perspective of ethical decision making and explores its antecedents, mechanism, and conditions. Drawing on moral licensing theory and social information processing theory, we propose that group citizenship behavior facilitates moral justification and constructive deviance when environmental dynamism is high and inhibits them when it is low; and moral justification fully mediates the relationship between the interaction of group citizenship behavior and environmental dynamism and constructive deviance. With two-wave panel data collected from 339 employees in 54 groups of five service companies in retailing, finance, and tourism randomly selected from three provinces in southern China, these hypotheses are all supported empirically. Our findings broaden the antecedents and occurrence mechanism of constructive deviance through an ethical decision-making lens. Our study contributes to the moral licensing literature by enriching the sources of moral licensing in the workplace and empirically demonstrating that moral justification may function as an underlying mechanism of moral licensing.

Keywords: constructive deviance; environmental dynamism; group citizenship behavior; moral justification; moral licensing theory.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • China
  • Decision Making* / ethics
  • Female
  • Group Processes
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Morals*
  • Workplace* / psychology
  • Workplace* / statistics & numerical data