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Should organizational leaders care about what their employees do in their free time outside the workplace? Some employers that have fired employees for the content of their personal websites or blogs might argue for the importance of organizational involvement in the personal lives of employees (Gely & Bierman, 2007). For instance, Heather Armstrong was fired when her employer discovered that she had written disparaging things about her organization and coworkers, such as calling her supervisor ‘‘Her Wretchedness’’ on her personal blog (Bulkeley, 2006). Arguably defaming comments made outside the workplace such as those written by Heather Armstrong on her blog could potentially cause damage to an organization’s image. Also, consider the dilemma of a Broadway theater that employs an actressin a leading rolein a children’s show when this actress is scrutinized by tabloid magazines for her partyinglifestyle. Although the actress may receive critical acclaim for her show performance, parents from the audience who learn about the private life of this actress may pressure the theater to replace her with someone whose lifestyle is more acceptable to them. Organizational leaders may be concerned about what their employees do in their personal lives because of the increasing permeability and flexibility of organizational boundaries (Scott, 2004). The options for organizations and employees to isolate their activities from their environment have become limited. The possible influence of employee behavior outside of organizational boundaries has been exaggerated by the increased transparency of the world due to technological advancements like the Internet, 24/7 cable news coverage, and devices like camera phones that allow the documentation of behavior in most, if not all, settings. Organizational leaders’ attempts to control nonwork behavior also have increasingly become subject to public scrutiny (Sutton & Galunic, 1996). Nevertheless, public opinion over organizational policies to control employee behavior outside the workplace has been divided; some stakeholder groups have been supportive of such policies but others have voiced their disapproval (Price, Gioia, & Corley, 2008). The purpose of this manuscript is to draw attention to the organizational implications of employee nonwork behavior and to explain why and how organizational leaders might choose to control such behavior (Staw, 1991). In doing so, we describe different types of nonwork behavior based on their relatedness to the employee’s job and their potential relevance for the organization. We use this conceptualization to explain how different nonwork behaviors influence organizational image (Dutton, Dukerich, & Harquail, 1994; Gioia, Schultz, & Corley, 2000; Whetten & Mackey, 2002). Our framework specifically considers critical environmental conditions and individual characteristics that may motivate organizational leaders to control the nonwork behaviors of their employees. Further, we draw from the blame and attributions literature (e.g., Alicke, 2000) to determine when organizational leaders may attempt to control nonwork behavior. Our arguments suggest that organizations and their leaders may have a much more pervasive influence on the nonwork lives of employees than the current literature implies. Organizational leaders can explicitly communicate expectations for nonwork behaviors, for instance, via hiring, firing, promoting, and reprimanding employees based on these behaviors. As the opening vignette illustrates, employers increasingly discipline employees for what they write on their off-duty Internet blogs (Gely & Bierman, 2007). Other forms of nonwork behaviors can also be the subjects of scrutiny by organizations. For instance, the County of Sarasota, Florida in the United States recently adopted a policy of not hiring any county workers who are smokers—and the State of Florida Supreme Court earlier approved its right to adopt such a policy (Anderson, 2008). Companies ranging from Scotts Miracle-Gro Co. and Weyco based also in the United States have adopted policies of this kind (Norbut, 2006). Other forms of nonwork behavior such as personal relationships and charitable activities also have become a subject of control. As Doug Schwarz, a lawyer from New York stated, It used to be that as long as an executive performed well on the job, no one cared much about what they were doing in their free time … but a sea change has occurred, with every aspect of managers’ conduct being scrutinized. (Hymowitz, 2007) Our focus on organizational-level implications of nonwork behaviors supplements previous psychological or individual-level explanations by considering that individual behaviors operate under organizational constraints (Mowday & Sutton, 1993). As such, the arguments set forth in this paper arguably bridge micro- and macroliteratures. Possibly the most important theoretical contribution of this work is that our model describes how a type of behavior once not explicitly considered in the macro literature (i.e., nonwork behavior) could influence organizational image (Staw, 1991). Our typology of nonwork behavior could be used in future research to discern how organizational members view nonwork behaviors and to what extent organizational leaders attempt to control these behaviors. In the next section, we characterize nonwork behaviors based on their relatedness to the employee’s job and the organization. We also detail the influence of nonwork behaviors on organizational image. Next, we draw from the blame and attributions literature to discuss environmental- and individual-level factors that organizational leaders might consider in their attempts to control nonwork behaviors. We conclude with a discussion of theoretical implications for our propositions and suggest directions for future research.

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