Sticking Out Like a Sore Thumb: Employee Dissimilarity and Deviance at Work


  • * This study was supported by a grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation through the University of Minnesota's Food Industry Center. An early version of this paper was presented at the Academy of Management Meeting, Seattle, August 2003. We thank Susan Jackson, David Hofmann, John Kammeyer-Mueller, Theresa Glomb, Stanley Gully, Jean Phillips, Editor Ann Marie Ryan, and three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments.

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This study examined demographic- and personality-based employee dissimilarities in relation to organizational and interpersonal deviant behaviors. Perceived organizational support (POS), organizational commitment, perceived coworker support, and coworker satisfaction were proposed as mediators. The results revealed that dissimilarities in ethnicity, Agreeableness, and Openness to Experience were significantly related to organizational deviance; dissimilarities in gender, Conscientiousness, and Extraversion were significantly related to interpersonal deviance. In addition, ethnic dissimilarity negatively predicted POS and organizational commitment, age dissimilarity positively predicted perceived coworker support, Extraversion dissimilarity positively predicted coworker satisfaction, Agreeableness dissimilarity negatively predicted POS, and Openness to Experience dissimilarity negatively predicted POS, organizational commitment, perceived coworker support, and coworker satisfaction. Finally, POS partially mediated the relationship between Agreeableness dissimilarity and organizational deviance. Interpretations of results, implications for management, and future research are discussed.