Absence of Malice: A Meta-Analysis of Nonresponse Bias in Counterproductive Work Behavior Research

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Despite the alleged frequency of counterproductive work behavior (CWB) in the population, most samples exhibit exceedingly low base rates. One potential explanation for this incongruence is nonresponse bias, which leads to range restriction in the CWB distribution. We investigated this possibility by determining whether response rates within CWB research were lower than that found across management research and whether range restriction could explain reduced CWB engagement. We also examined whether range restriction attenuated CWB's relations to other variables. Our primary findings are that reported response rates for studies containing CWB measures are substantially lower (37%) than response rates reported within the general management literature (53%) and that range restriction is likely present in the CWB literature, resulting in low base rates and attenuated relations to CWB. In addition, tests of publication bias indicated that low response rates are less likely to be reported, and the true response rate within the CWB literature may be considerably lower.

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