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Deterrence in the Workplace - Perceived Certainty, Perceived Severity, and Employee Theft

NCJ Number
Social Forces Volume: 62 Issue: 2 Dated: (December 1983) Pages: 398-418
Date Published
21 pages
The phenomenon of employee theft is examined empirically, utilizing a deterrence paradigm. Employees selected randomly from three different industry sectors and metropolitan areas were asked to self-report their involvement in a number of property theft activities within the employment setting.
Using a weighted least-squares logit regression analysis, the study found that the perception of both the certainty and severity of organizational sanctions were related to employee theft. Males reported more theft than did females, but contrary to previous research, no gender/certainty or gender/severity interactions were observed. The best-fit model did, however, contain two significant first-order interactions: age/certainty and age/severity. These interactions strongly suggest that younger employees are not as deterrable as their older peers, especially under conditions of both high certainty and high severity of punishment. While a number of possible explanations might account for differential deterrability according to age, a commitment to or stakes in conformity explanation is proposed. (Publisher abstract)

Date Published: January 1, 1983