ISSN 0439-755X
CN 11-1911/B

Acta Psychologica Sinica ›› 2022, Vol. 54 ›› Issue (1): 66-77.doi: 10.3724/SP.J.1041.2022.00066

• Reports of Empirical Studies • Previous Articles     Next Articles

Rules can maintain harmony? The influence of team pro-social rule breaking climate on team performance from the perspective of harmony management

CAI Yahua, CHENG Jialin, LI Jinsong()   

  1. College of Business, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, Shanghai 200433, China
  • Received:2021-02-03 Published:2022-01-25 Online:2021-11-26
  • Contact: LI Jinsong
  • Supported by:
    National Natural Science Foundation of China(71872109);National Natural Science Foundation of China(71632005);innovation team support program of Shanghai University of Finance and economics


In Chinese organizations, it is not uncommon that employees deviate from established rules in order to help others or to enhance work efficiency. Accordingly, such pro-social rule breaking (PSRB) has attracted strong and increasing research attention. However, while scholars have studied the antecedents and outcomes of PSRB at the individual level, no relevant research has explored the notion of team PSRB climate and its effects on team outcomes. By building on harmony management theory, our study proposes and tests a mediated moderation model that explored when and why team PSRB climate influences team performance.
To test our hypotheses, we conducted a three-wave field study from three major construction companies in China. All the data were collected on-site through paper and pencil surveys. At each time point, three researchers visited the companies and distributed the questionnaires to the team leaders and their subordinates. The participants completed the surveys and placed them in sealed envelopes, which were then collected by the research team. All participants received a small gift in exchange for their participation. We received complete responses from 74 team leaders and their 334 subordinates.
The results provided support for our theoretical model and showed that (1) the interaction between team PSRB climate and task interdependence significantly predicted team harmony, such that the negative relationship between team PSRB climate and team harmony was stronger when task interdependence was high rather than low; (2) team harmony was significantly positively related to team performance; (3) team harmony mediated the interactive effect of team PSRB climate and task interdependence on team performance, such that the indirect effect was negative when task interdependence was high.
In summary, our study makes three key contributions. First, we extend the literature by conceptualizing PSRB at the team level and by describing the theoretical foundations for the emergence of team PSRB climate. Specifically, we argue that a team’s PSRB climate develops through processes of social interaction as team members observe, communicate, and share their PSRB experiences. Second, we provide novel insights into the mechanisms through which team PSRB climate influences team performance. Our results suggest that team harmony plays an important role for the effects of team PSRB climate. Third, we identify an important boundary condition for the effects of team PSRB climate. Specifically, our results indicate that it is crucial to consider the moderating effect of task interdependence to yield a more complete and accurate understanding of whether and when teams will experience more or less disharmony as a result of their PSRB climate.

Key words: team pro-social rule breaking climate, team harmony, task interdependence, team performance