Toxic Workers

by Dylan Minor

Overview — This paper identifies personality and situational factors that lead to a worker engaging in toxic behavior, including sexual harassment, workplace violence, and fraud.

Author Abstract

While there has been a lot of research on finding and developing top performers in the workplace, less attention has been paid to the question of how to manage those workers who are harmful to organizational performance. In extreme cases, in addition to hurting performance, such workers can generate enormous regulatory and legal liabilities for the firm. We explore a large novel dataset of over 50,000 workers across 11 different firms to document a variety of aspects of workers’ characteristics and circumstances that lead them to engage in "toxic" behavior. We also find that avoiding a toxic worker (or converting him to an average worker) enhances performance to a much greater extent than replacing an average worker with a superstar worker.

Paper Information