Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 94, Issue 1, pp 53–67

Stealing Time at Work: Attitudes, Social Pressure, and Perceived Control as Predictors of Time Theft

  • Christine A. Henle
  • Charlie L. Reeve
  • Virginia E. Pitts

DOI: 10.1007/s10551-009-0249-z

Cite this article as:
Henle, C.A., Reeve, C.L. & Pitts, V.E. J Bus Ethics (2010) 94: 53. doi:10.1007/s10551-009-0249-z


Organizations have long struggled to find ways to reduce the occurrence of unethical behaviors by employees. Unfortunately, time theft, a common and costly form of ethical misconduct at work, has been understudied by ethics researchers. In order to remedy this gap in the literature, we used the theory of planned behavior (TPB) to investigate the antecedents of time theft, which includes behaviors such as arriving later to or leaving earlier from work than scheduled, taking additional or longer breaks than is acceptable, and on-the-job daydreaming. We surveyed 135 employed undergraduate business students regarding the TPB variables at Time 1. Two months later, participants reported the frequency they engaged in time theft since Time 1. Results indicate that behavioral, normative, and control beliefs significantly predicted attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control, respectively. Attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control, in turn, were significantly related to time theft intentions, which predicted later enactment of time theft. Thus, employers can decrease time theft by primarily focusing on altering employees’ attitudes toward time theft, followed by reducing social pressures to engage in it, and lastly, by implementing organizational practices that make it difficult to commit time theft.


attitudesnormsperceived behavioral controltheory of planned behaviortime theftunethical behavior

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christine A. Henle
    • 1
  • Charlie L. Reeve
    • 2
  • Virginia E. Pitts
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of ManagementColorado State UniversityFort CollinsU.S.A.
  2. 2.University of North Carolina CharlotteCharlotteU.S.A.
  3. 3.Colorado State UniversityFort CollinsU.S.A.