This paper presents a review and integrative model of how, when, and why the behaviors of one negative group member can have powerful, detrimental influence on teammates and groups. We define the negative group member as someone who persistently exhibits one or more of the following behaviors: withholding effort from the group, expressing negative affect, or violating important interpersonal norms. We then detail how these behaviors elicit psychological states in teammates (e.g. perceptions of inequity, negative feelings, reduced trust), how those psychological states lead to defensive behavioral reactions (e.g. outbursts, mood maintenance, withdrawal), and finally, how these various manifestations of defensiveness influence important group processes and dynamics (e.g. cooperation, creativity). Key mechanisms and moderators are discussed as well as actions that might reduce the impact of the bad apple. Implications for both practice and research are discussed.

dx.doi.org/10.1016/S0191-3085(06)27005-9, hdl.handle.net/1765/19964
ERIM Article Series (EAS)
Research in Organizational Behavior
Erasmus Research Institute of Management

Felps, W.A, Mitchell, T.R, & Byington, E.K. (2006). How, when and why bad apples spoil the barrel: negative group members and dysfunctional groups. Research in Organizational Behavior, 27, 175–222. doi:10.1016/S0191-3085(06)27005-9