Peter Graeff, Julia Kleinewiese
Esprit de corps as a source of deviant behavior in organizations: Applying an old concept with a new livery

Pp. 219-245 in: Markus Pohlmann, Gerhard Dannecker, Elizangela Valarini (Eds.): Bribery, Fraud, Cheating: How to Explain And to Avoid Organizational Wrongdoing?. 2020. Wiesbaden: Springer VS

As single actors or groups of actors commit deviant deeds, in this paper, we explore the validity of a theoretical perspective that focuses on the dynamics of actors that could deviate. We are not primarily interested in classifying potential deviant actors as not following legal standards or being law-abiding organizational members. We are more interested in the social processes that increase the likelihood of deviant behavior, regularly and regardless of the particular characteristics of the specific “offenders”. We argue that high degrees of social cohesion (e.g., in form of an esprit de corps) between group members might increase the likelihood that social norms (for the purpose of group protection) emerge. These are known to enhance group performance, however, they may also normalize or trivialize deviant behavior of group members.