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Social Theory and Practice

Volume 43, Issue 3, July 2017

Ned Dobos
Pages 519-540
DOI: 10.5840/soctheorpract20178112

What’s So Deviant about Production Deviance?
The Ethics of ‘Withholding Effort’ in the Workplace

In the world of human resource management employees who deliberately “withhold effort” on the job are called “production deviants.” The implication is that workers are under a duty to perform as best they can, but why should we accept this? Three answers are presented and interrogated. The first says that employees who withhold effort are guilty of “time-banditry” or theft from their employers. The second says that withholding effort harms one’s colleagues or co-workers. The third suggests that employees owe their employers a debt of gratitude, whose discharge requires that they be as productive as they reasonably can be.

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