Key words

Organisational Justice,Counterproductive behavior.


The counter-productive work behavior of employees in public corporations has been worrisome to each successive government and to all other well-meaning Nigerians for many decades. This very sad experience has been increasing at an alarming rate and continues to impart negatively on productivity daily. Successive governments have made lots of efforts toward reviving the right culture of work but to no avail. Apart from the economic losses that accrue from such practice at all levels; an unproductive nation can neither feed nor sustain her people. It should also be noted that with such negative work behavior, no meaningful progress will be made nation-wide especially with regard to vision 2020 Agenda which is uppermost to take Nigeria to the next level. Moreover, this negative work attitude of the Civil Servant will continue to cast aspersion on the Sub-Sahara African Transformation Agenda (Suleiman, 2013).Traditionally, each new government comes along with its programmes agenda and policies. The most vital machinery of government is the responsibility of the state and/or federal civil service commission to remote and to control the enforcement of these programmes, policies and agenda. Warren Fisher’s report to the British Royal Commission on the Civil Service 1929 reveals that the ”determination of policy is the work of the Ministers; and immediately any policy is made, it is unquestioned and unquestionable business policy of the civil servant to try very hard to carry out the policy made for the them with good will, whether the civil servant agrees with the policy or not. The policy made by the ministers’ stands”. The basic role of the Civil Service and civil servants is to assist the government in the implementation of policies, by providing a conducive working environment needed for such to be actualized. James-Igbinadolor, N. (2013) reiterated that the first true bureaucracies arose in respect to the importance of water regulation in the river valleys, especially that of River Nile, Tigris and Euphrates River, Indus River and Yellow River. James-Igbinadolor, also observe that water sources like the Rivers mentioned above supplied the lifeblood of the civilizations they nurtured. However, it is the duty of the government to monitor the flow and supervise the water distribution into complex irrigation systems that constitute the lifeblood. The functions of government are the millennia that have passed this characteristic. Governments have revolved and evolved new forms of supervision and organizational management, service, payment and motivation, some are functional in form of serving the need of that particular people, some catastrophic in their inefficiency, oppression. The Studying of the Nigerian Civil Service reflects its critical role in national development, it can be concluded that the service as presently constituted are neither possesses the capacity or its readiness to delivery government service to the public. However, the performance of the Civil Service with its policy and the support to the government from the time of colonial era up to the mid-1970s was of a standard. The performance of the civil service began to diminish progressively to the peaked of a scandalous level (JamesIgbinadolor, 2013). The critical factors responsible for this weak state of affairs are the counterproductive work behavior of its workers. As a result of the pervasive nature of the concept of counterproductive work behavior, it has generated high interest among researchers and practitioners. Counter-productive Work Behavior (CWB) is extra-role behavior that is performed with the intention of harming organizations and/or their members. CWB is defined as volitional employee behavior that harms, or at least is intended to harm, the legitimate interests of an organization (Dalal, Lam, Weiss, Welch, & Hulin, 2009). Muafi (2011) rightly points that the behavior of workers in the manufacturing organizations has been problematic in the recent time. This is evident in the work of Omar, (2011) that reported that the account of counter-productive work behavior was wasting a lot of billions of dollars. Vardi and Weitz (2004) reveals that there is need to make more researches input to understand the determinants of counter-productive work behavior at the workplace due, in part, to its cost and harmful consequences. CWB could be as a result of personality traits, for instant is that of narcissism (Penney & Spector, 2002), dissatisfaction (Muafi, 2011), envy and negative emotions (Krischer et al, 2010). Unclear job description, unsecured employment situation, lack of job opportunities and inadequate appraisal system (Shamsudin et al, 2011), abnormal supervision (Shoss et al., 2013), stressful situations and company contempt (Muafi, 2011), and leader mistreatment (Mayer et al., 2011) are some other stimuli of CWB. However, this study anchors on finding out the link between organizational justice and counter-productive work behavior among workers in Anambra State Civil Service Commission, Nigeria.

Review of related literature

Organizational justice

According to Greenberg and Baron (2009), Organizational Justice is the study of people’s perception of fairness in organization. Organizational Justice is historically rooted in Equity theory. Equity theory according to Adam (1965), states that people undergo cognitive conflict when things go in contrast to their prospect. The Equity theory says that personal involvement in their continual social comparison within their referent individuals. Thus they compare the ratio of their ‘‘input and output’’ with their individual referents. Organizational Justice is a key factor to most successful organizations. In order to keep a satisfied, committed and loyal employee in the organization, the organization needs to be fair in its system regarding justice. When employees see themselves as partners in the organization, they perceive higher level of justice. This is because employees feel that they are part of the decision making in the organization. Hence, employees feel that they are part of the organization, which most time enhances organizational productivity and employee performance. Similarly, when there is free flow of communication in an organization, employees feel higher level of justice. Deconick (2010) rightly states that the outcome of organizational justice is trust, and that commitment tends to increase where there is justice. Problems for instance allocation of monetary resources, hiring of the employees in the organizations, policy implications and making of policy that will affect decision makers and the people that were affected from such decisions require specific attention in line to justice (Greenberg, Colquitt and Zapata- Phelan, 2005). Wat and Shaffer (2005) state that equity has generally been conceptualized in terms of perceived fairness and operationalized as a three dimensional construct: distributive, procedural and interactional justice. Distributive Justice refers to employees’ perception concerning whether benefits are distributed fairly or not (Folger and Cropanzano, 1998). According to Greenberg and Baron (2009), Distributive Justice is that form of organizational justice that focuses on people’s belief, that their workers will receive fairness in the amounts of valued work with similar outcomes (e.g. pay, motivation, etc). Distributive justice requires that rights, benefits and responsibilities are distributed on the basis of skills and contributions. Cropanzano et al (2007), argued that distributive justice is concerned with the reality that not all workers are treated alike, and that the allocation of outcome is differentiated in workplace. Dailey and Kirk (1992) found that employees may rationalize their desire to quit, by finding evidence which illustrates how unfairly rewards are distributed. The main issue in distributive justice is whether gains made are right, appropriate and ethical (Ozen, 2003). Procedural Justice is defined as fairness issues concerning the methods, mechanisms and process employed to determine outcomes (Folger and Cropanzano, 1998). Greenberg (1996) views procedural justice as the perception of an individual concerning whether the procedures or methods used in the making of a decision about him / herself or a third person are appropriate. Procedural justice criteria include; decision making, regular application of rules, information accuracy, opportunity of the employee to be heard, safeguarding of the employee against bias (Greenberg & One major significance of procedural justice to the organization is that, been fair to the workers did not show that their workers were only interested in their fair outcomes, they also shows their interest in their fair processes tha is used in measuring their output result (Greenberg and Baron, 2009). In cases of procedural injustice, people will not only accept the output as unfair, they also will not consider the whole organizational system by accepting that unfair. Consequently, every organization that lack procedural justice should try to maintain procedural justice as a continuous practice, because those basic decisions made in unfair practices are not acceptable by employees (Greenberg and Cropanzano, 2001).

Interactional Justice is about how the behaviors of the decision makers are perceived (Bias and Moag, 1986). It is the way recipients of justice are treated by management in terms of organizational practices (Cohen- Charash and Speitor, 2001). Interactional justice is similar to actual performance of decision making process in an organization. The system of organizational justice shows that it is an interpersonal justice, that reveals people’s perceptions of the fairness on the manner they are been related with by others (Greenberg and Baron, 2009). Greenberg and Colquitt (2005), says that the boss revealed the condition and why the layoff of an employee in a sensitive manner, then it results in a positive feeling in the mind of the employee the organization, as the employee considers that the layoff is fair, and thus, will not sue the organization for wrongful termination. This shows, to a large extent, the importance of interactional justice, as the way an organization treats its employees help project the image and good will of the organization.

Counterproductive behavior

Literature on counterproductive work behavior is enormous as many theorists and researchers have conceptualized it differently. A close look at the prior scholarships reveals some agreements in the way CWB has been defined. Robinson & Bennet (1995) defines it is as behavior which violates organizational norms in some harmful manner. This harm can be, for the organization, in form of theft, sabotage, absenteeism etc. and for individual, in form of drugs; alcoholism etc. CWB goes against the goals and objectives of organizations (Spector et al., 2006), which may hurt the employees, organization and its stakeholders and may cause disorderliness of the organization to be at risk (Martinko et al., 2002).

Counter-productive Work Behavior upholds the various acts which includes: nasty rumors among co-workers, absenteeism, stealing, sabotage of co-workers, theft, refusing to cooperate, withholding of efforts of the co-workers, physical assault, withdrawal, and lying against your co-workers (Anjum and Parvez, 2013). Counterproductive work behavior disobeys the organizational rules and harassment in the organizational survival (Bennett and Robinson, 2000). In civil service, workers are predicted to show their particular institutional policies, rules and regulations. If workers do not observe these specified behaviors such as punctuality to work, harmonious behavior with colleagues and cordial relationship with customers, it shows counterproductive work behavior. Robinson and Kelly (1998) maintain that individuals’ counterproductive work behaviors are positioned with the aid of their colleges, there is a significant relationship between the anti-social shown by newly inducted individuals, and that of the co-workers. Counterproductive work behavior is dangerous to all the organizations in all its forms. To control such attitude, the event that comes before another needs to be revealed, anticipated and shared.

Spector et al., (2006) enumerate Counter-productive Work Behavior (CWB) into five specific dimensions which includes: sabotage, production deviation, withdrawal, abuse and theft.

Abuse against others

To abuse is treating other people violently; it can involve clear and fully expression of harmful character of an employee to to its co-workers and other members of the organization (Izawa, et al, 2006). Abuse against co-workers and other members of the organization may either be psychological or physical (Spector et al., 2005; Spector & Fox, 2006). Physical abuse is more intensive. It involves pushing, punching, the use of a weapon, setting a body trap against co-workers and stabbing (Farrell, 1997).

This type of abuse is mostly determined by its aggression that may be classified as follows: (i) Instrumental aggression; and (ii) Hostile aggression. Hostile aggression is linked up by negative feelings, for instance is frustration and anger. Instrumental aggression, linked with the emotions which are mean harming the organization and members of the organization (Pearson et al, 2005; Porath & Erez, 2009). And if the organization did not take serious corrective measures immediately, the organizations bear its cost that might be in the direction of low productive and increased in product turnover (Coccia, 1998).

Production devianc

Production deviance expressed as the failure to position the job tasks properly in the direction where they are intended to be (Hollingers, 1986). The employees purposely influence the effectiveness of their organization by lowering their quantity and quality of works to be performed by them (Hollinger and Clark 1982). When an employee ironically fails to perform its task which they are capable of; employee is involved in production deviance (Spector et al. 2006). This is one of the major dimensions of Counter-productive Work Behavior (CWB); due to its effects in the rate of organizational success by intentionally formulating troubles against organizational performance (Coffin, 2003).

Production deviance occurs because the organization lacks adequate technology, poor environmental influrnce, and too much workload that shows in leaving early, adding so many breaks and willingly lower the rate of work done (Robinson and Bennett, 1995). Various research studies reveals that production and property deviance is of high probability to influence organizational employees in workplace deviance (Baucus and Near, 1991). Production deviance is also caused by aggression at workplace; but it is more inactive than sabotage, is less visible and can be difficult to prove (Spector et al. 2006). Baucus and Near, (1991) studies observe that the young and new employees and work part-time in their job and they are always involve in low-paying jobs and are more certain to involved in the type of abuse called production deviance and property deviance.


Sabotage simply meanings to destroy the assets or physical property of an organization or employer (Chen & Spector, 1992). It is the attitude of the employees which when employed will reduce the productiveness of that particular organization. Sabotage and Production deviance are the two major dimensions of behaviors that can represent i) intentionally destroying something ii) failure to do a task or do it correctly. However, sabotage is active in approach and production deviance is passive, but both are twisted together (Spector et al., 2006).


Theft is act of stealing the assets of an organization (Chen & Spector, 1992). Galperin, (2002) reviews that theft is a particular aspect of counterproductive work behavior that enforces individuals to disobey the organizational standard. By the crime of stealing, the employees mean to willingly hurt the organizations from their motives (Niehoff & Paul, 2000; Spector et al., 2006). This act of stealing can take different shapes or different dimensions like that of deception, misleading records and stealing cash (Gabbidon et al., 2006). Mustaine & Tewksbury (2002) reported that act of stealing can be caused by three classes of reasons: lack of justice, job dissatisfaction and economic importance. Organizational & interpersonal problems, negative emotions and anger are major reasons for the act of stealing (Bolin & Heatherly 2001).


Withdrawal involves the negative behaviors which lowers the volume of period of work than the one recommended by the organization. This involves late comers at the working palce or leaving early from the workplace without job dismissal, absent from work without proper excuse and taking longer period of breaks permitted by the organization (Spector et al. 2006).

Past empirical review studies

Devonish and Greenidge (2010) tested the direct effects of three dimensions of organizational justice – interactional justice, procedural justice, and distributive justice – ( on contextual performance, counterproductive work behaviors, and task performance. The study also examined the moderating effects of emotional intelligence (EI) on the justice–performance relationship. Based on the data from 211 employees across nine organizations from the private and public sectors in a developing country in the Caribbean, the results revealed that all three justice dimensions had positive significant effects on task performance, contextual performance, and counterproductive work behaviors in the expected direction. Composite Emotional Intelligence and its four sub dimensions (expression and appraisal of emotion in the self, appraisal and recognition of emotion in others, regulation of emotion, and use of emotion) moderated by the relationship that exist within procedural justice and contextual performance, but failed to moderate other justice–performance relationships.

Chernyak-Hai and Tziner (2010) argues Social Exchange Theory as a skeleton to reveal Counterproductive Work Behavior (CWB) and examined climate and organizational distributive justice as a tool for predicting of the counterproductive workplace behavior, while extracting whether exchange characteristics and immediate job.

Anjum and Parvez (2013) investigated the level of counterproductive work behaviors in an organization of 400 employees and members of the organization. Three instruments and tools adopted in this research are, Counterproductive Work Behavior Checklist (CWB-C), Interpersonal Conflict Scale (ICAW) and Minnesota Job Satisfaction Scale. In the Results several techniques were applied for inferential statistics which includes mean rank analysis, regression and correlations. In the results it was reported that a certain significant level exists within the rate of counterproductive work behaviors (CWBs) of the workers. In conclusion, the results reported that satisfactory job has a reduced influence on counterproductive behaviors.



The population of the study involves all employees of Anambra State Civil Commission. The estimated population of workers is at about 1775 for males and 4890 for females, totaling 6665 (Ministry of Economic Planning and Budget Statistical Book, 2010).

To determine the sample size for the study, the sample size formula for finite population according to Cochran (1963) will be employed thus;

Where; SS= Sample Size

Z = Given Z value (1.96 for a 95 percent confidence level)

p = Percentage of population (i.e. estimated proportion of an attribute)

e = Confidence level (desired level of precision)

P = Population Size

However, out of the three hundred and sixty four (364) respondents given questionnaire to fill, one hundred and ninety eight (198) copies of the questionnaire were returned. Out of the 198 respondents 83 (41.92%) were males while 115 (58.08%) were females. This study used self-administered questionnaires distributed to elicit information from the respondents. The respondents were selected through stratified random sampling.


The instruments were designed for individual level unit of analysis. Each respondent in the study was required to complete two measures: Organizational Justice and Counterproductive Work Behavior. Organizational Justice was measured using a 20-items scale by Niehoff and Moorman (1993) while Counterproductive work behavior was measured with 25-items scale based on the five dimensions (Spector et al, 2006). The response opnions with the two instrumental tools were basically on five point Likert scale; (1) strongly agree, (2) agree, (3) undecided, (4) strongly disagree, (5) disagree.


To assess the reliability of the measurement items of all the variables, an internal consistency check was carried out. The Cronbach alpha from the test yielded a record of 0.607 for distributive justice, 0.761 for procedural justice, 0.834 for interactional justice, 0.705 for abuse, 0.664 for productive deviance, 0.501 for sabotage, 0.719 for theft, and 0.812 for withdrawal which is far above the cut-off line of reliability as recommended by Cooper and Schinder, (2006) ; Malhurtra and Birks (2006). Content validity that is used to assess for the measuring instruments was done in the pre-tested stage by soliciting the expert opinions of two scholars who are research specialists in quantitative methodology and management disciplines. The scale was then pre-tested on 30 respondents who were the employees that have similar characteristics to the target population as suggested by Sekaran and Bougie (2010).

Table 1: Summary of Likert Statistical Scale (From Point 5 to 1) on the Variables

Variables Strongly agree(5) Agree(4) Unknown(3) Strongly Disagree(2) Disagree(1)
Distributive Justice 34 14 3 187 126
Procedural Justice 0 2 0 206 156
Interactional Justice 14 20 0 211 119
Abuse 167 172 0 13 12
Production Deviance 125 193 1 3 42
Sabotage 189 170 0 0 5
Theft 158 201 1 0 4
Withdrawal 162 186 2 3 11


The descriptive statistics of the constructs are indicated showing the mean and standard deviation scores of the constructs. The average scores from the 5-point Likert scale where 5 is strongly agree and 1 is strongly disagree for all the variables are computed to show the proportion of the respondents that either strongly agreed or tended to disagree with the items of the variables. The mean scores are obtained by compiling the mean scores of all the items in each variable.

Table 2: Total Summary of Descriptive Statistics on the Variables

Variables Mean Likert scale Standard Deviation
Distributive Justice 3.9767 1.01395
Procedural Justice 3.9133 1.01356
Interactional Justice 3.9456 .9365
Abuse 3.9434 .9434
Production Deviance 3.8451 1.0155
Sabotage 4.1246 .9496
Theft 3.8949 1.0499
Withdrawal 3.8018 .9790

A critical review of the mean and standard deviation in Table 1 shows that no variable has a mean score of less than 2.5 on a 5-point scale. This indicates that participants agree or strongly agree with all the variables regarding organizational justice and counterproductive behavior. Thus, result from table one (1) above shows that organizational justice is positively related to counterproductive work behavior.

Stronglyagree Agree Unknown Stronglydisagree Disagree
Stronglyagree Pearson Correlation 1 -.785* -.275 .246 -.571
Sig. (2-tailed) .021 .510 .557 .139
N 8 8 8 8 8
Agree Pearson Correlation -.785* 1 -.058 -.707* .050
Sig. (2-tailed) .021 .892 .050 .907
N 8 8 8 8 8
Unknown Pearson Correlation -.275 -.058 1 .562 .136
Sig. (2-tailed) .510 .892 .147 .749
N 8 8 8 8 8
Stronglydisagre Pearson Correlation .246 -.707* .562 1 .141
Sig. (2-tailed) .557 .050 .147 .740
N 8 8 8 8 8
Disagree Pearson Correlation -.571 .050 .136 .141 1
Sig. (2-tailed) .139 .907 .749 .740
N 8 8 8 8 8

Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).

Table 4: Nonparametric Correlations of the Variables

Stronglyagree Agree Unknown Stronglydisagree Disagree
Kendall’s tau_b Stronglyagree Correlation Coefficient 1.000 -.786** -.371 .154 -.071
Sig. (2-tailed) . .006 .228 .608 .805
N 8 8 8 8 8
Agree Correlation Coefficient -.786** 1.000 .206 -.386 -.143
Sig. (2-tailed) .006 . .503 .199 .621
N 8 8 8 8 8
Unknown Correlation Coefficient -.371 .206 1.000 .267 .206
Sig. (2-tailed) .228 .503 . .406 .503
N 8 8 8 8 8
Stronglydisagree Correlation Coefficient .154 -.386 .267 1.000 .617*
Sig. (2-tailed) .608 .199 .406 . .040
N 8 8 8 8 8
Disagree Correlation Coefficient -.071 -.143 .206 .617* 1.000
Sig. (2-tailed) .805 .621 .503 .040 .
N 8 8 8 8 8
Spearman’s rho Stronglyagree Correlation Coefficient 1.000 -.905** -.562 .147 -.167
Sig. (2-tailed) . .002 .147 .728 .693
N 8 8 8 8 8
Agree Correlation Coefficient -.905** 1.000 .281 -.503 -.167
Sig. (2-tailed) .002 . .500 .204 .693
N 8 8 8 8 8
Unknown Correlation Coefficient -.562 .281 1.000 .309 .230
Sig. (2-tailed) .147 .500 . .456 .584
N 8 8 8 8 8
Stronglydisagree Correlation Coefficient .147 -.503 .309 1.000 .761*
Sig. (2-tailed) .728 .204 .456 . .028
N 8 8 8 8 8
Disagree Correlation Coefficient -.167 -.167 .230 .761* 1.000
Sig. (2-tailed) .693 .693 .584 .028 .
N 8 8 8 8 8
Correlation is significant at the 0.05 level (2-tailed).


From the findings, the research work argued that there is a significant and positive relationship that occurs with organizational justice and counterproductive work behavior. The correlation results reveal a two tail significant levels analyses using Pearson, Kendall’s tau_b, Spearman’s rho correlation analysis. The Pearson correlation analysis reveals a two tail significant level of 0.021; Kendall’s tau_b correlation analysis reveals a significant level of 0.006 while Spearman’s rho correlation analysis shows a significant level of 0.002. These show that workers are more likely to exhibit counterproductive work behavior as a result of organizational injustice in the establishment. For instance, some workers, due to the hostile and ill-disposed behavior the employees can be absorbing from their supervisor(s) can promote the problem involved with their co-workers. Such problems can stimulate the workers which they will start observing their workplace as an unsecured environment to stay within; the workers might start showing some counterproductive work behavior which if allowed will help the employees to adjust with the stress. However, the study recommended that management should not ignore the importance of organizational justice on counterproductive workplace behavior among its workers. Also, management (employer) should be devoted to building an employment relationship of justice and fairness with their workers by fulfilling their needs through offering equitable working conditions, organizational support to them to avert any type of counterproductive behavior.


In conclusion, the generalization of this research work is scoped by the use of data collection method and scope nonetheless, the research work has made its own impact to existing literatures on how organizational justice influences counterproductive work behavior in Anambra State Civil Service Commission. This study used stratified random sampling method in data collection hence; future studies may consider more robust and scientific approach in order to help in the validation of the instrument for such studies. Also, it is suggested that further studies should consider more deviant behaviors which is attributed to organizational justice than was the case in this study.