Loyal rebels? A test of the normative conflict model of constructive deviance

Jason J. Dahling, Melissa B. Gutworth

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

56 Scopus citations


Constructive deviance is a voluntary behavior that violates organizational rules but is conducted with honorable intentions to benefit the organization or its stakeholders. Despite emerging interest in this behavior, the antecedents of constructive deviance remain unclear, with particular ambiguity concerning the relationship between organizational identity and constructive deviance. In this article, we address this ambiguity with the normative conflict model, which posits that organizational identity drives constructive deviance in the workplace only when people perceive normative conflict with organizational rules. In Studies 1a and 1b, we develop and validate a measure of normative conflict. In Study 2, we conduct a preliminary test of the model with employed students and find that identity is positively related to constructive deviance only when normative conflict is high. In Study 3, we replicate and extend the model to show that the moderating effect of normative conflict is mediated by experienced psychological discomfort and that organizational identity is positively related to constructive deviance among working adults only when discomfort is high. In total, our findings demonstrate the utility of the normative conflict model for explaining when constructive deviance is mostly likely to occur in the workplace.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1167-1182
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Organizational Behavior
Issue number8
StatePublished - Oct 2017


  • dissent
  • organizational deviance
  • organizational rules
  • resistance
  • social identity


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