You, Me, and the Organization Makes Three: The Organization’s (Adverse) Effect on Relationships among Coworkers

Kevin S. Cruz, Georgia Southern University
Thomas J. Zagenczyk, NC State University
Stacey R. Kessler, Kennesaw State University


Organizational leaders seek to cultivate close relationships among employees to positively impact employees’ workplace behaviors. However, to leaders’ detriment, they often do so without focusing on employees’ relationships with the organization itself. Grounded in social exchange theory and conservation of resources theory, we hypothesize that employees’ perceptions of their relationships with their organizations, in the forms of psychological contract breach (PCB) and perceived organizational support (POS), impact their behaviors (deviance and citizenship) toward their coworkers, even when employees have stronger relationships with their coworkers. Results from a sample of 266 employees across two time points suggest that employees who perceive a more positive relationship with their employers (i.e., lower PCB or higher POS) engage in more deviant behaviors toward their coworkers when they have stronger relationships with their coworkers. In contrast, employees engage in fewer deviant behaviors toward their coworkers when they perceive a more negative relationship with their employers (i.e., higher PCB or lower POS). We find no such effects for citizenship behaviors toward coworkers. We believe these results suggest that there may be different theoretical processes operating for interpersonal deviance and interpersonal citizenship toward coworkers.