Prosocial Rule-breaking to Help Coworker: Nature, Causes, and Effect on Service Performance

Cass Shum, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Ankita Ghosh, University of Nevada, Las Vegas
Anthony Gatling, University of Nevada, Las Vegas


We examine the nature, antecedents, and service performance consequence of employees’ prosocial rule-breaking behaviors with a motive to help coworkers (PSBC) in two studies. Using a qualitative exploratory study with a sample of 80 hospitality workers, we showed the prevalence of PSBC in the hospitality industry, which includes four unique forms. Next, we examined the causes and effect of PSBC by drawing on the social cognitive theory. We proposed that coworkers PSBC and employees’ moral courage interactively predict employee PSBC, which has a negative effect on service performance. We tested the hypotheses using a time-lagged survey study with a sample of 149 hospitality workers. Results from path analysis supported our predictions. They also showed that the relationship between coworker PSBC and employee PSBC was stronger when employees’ moral courage was high. The findings provide theoretical and practical implication on managing employees’ rule-breaking behaviors in hospitality settings.