Regulatory Focus and Workplace Behaviour: Organisational citizenship behaviour, workplace deviance and the moderating role of gender

Publication Date: 
March 2017
Christina K. C. Lee

Publisher Link


This study aims to gain insight into the motivations that underlie one’s workplace behaviour, using regulatory focus theory. Given that males and females act differently in the workplace, the question of whether gender moderated this association was also considered. Workplace behaviour is modelled in this study by the contrasting actions of organisational deviance, a means of harming the organisation and organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB) – conscientiousness, a means of enhancing the organisation. Regulatory focus theory indicates that different means or foci can be used to achieve the same goal, either by approaching a match to the desired goal or by avoiding a mismatch to the required goal, known as promotion or prevention, respectively. A total of 108 students from an Asian campus of a Western university were primed for either one of these foci. Participants were then administered a questionnaire to determine their willingness to exhibit conscientiousness and organisational deviance. The results show that prevention primed individuals were more willing to demonstrate conscientiousness, consistent with theory. However, instead of a direct relationship between one’s regulatory focus and their willingness to demonstrate organisational deviance, it was found that gender moderates the relationship between one’s regulatory focus and the willingness to perform organisational deviance, but does not moderate the relationship between regulatory focus and the willingness to perform conscientiousness. The paper explains the results and examines opportunities for future research.