2020 (17), №4

Opportunistic Behaviour of Employees: its Causes and Ways of Overcoming it

For citation: 

Belkin, V. N., Belkina, N. A., & Antonova, O. A. (2020). Opportunistic Behaviour of Employees: its Causes and Ways of Overcoming it. Zhurnal Economicheskoj Teorii [Russian Journal of Economic Theory], 17 (4), 849-858.


The article shows that the root of opportunistic behavior of employees in Russia is alienation of labor as employees are excluded from participation in property and management relations. The main reasons behind opportunism among employees are the discrepancy between the economic interests of the owners of labor-power (workers) and the owners of the means of production (employers), information asymmetry, and the fact that slacking often goes unnoticed in enterprises. The study relies on the data collected by the authors in a number of enterprises. Thus, the analysis brings to light the main factors that determine the tendency of workers to slack off and the scale of this problem in Russian enterprises and leads the authors to propose their own definition of the term “opportunistic behavior of workers”. The article discusses opportunistic behavior of employers, which is also a widely spread phenomenon. Employers’ opportunism may occur both before and after the conclusion of the employment contract and stems from the employer’ s desire to reduce labour costs. To a great extent such behaviour is caused by employers’ dominant position in relation to the vast majority of workers. Under the threat of unemployment, most workers are forced to agree to the conditions dictated by employers. Thus, the authors also propose a definition of the term “opportunistic behavior of employers”. The collapse of the North American company ENRON is considered as a practical example of harmful socio-economic effects of employer opportunism. The authors’ findings concerning the reasons behind opportunistic behaviour at work are further used to suggest ways of overcoming this problem.

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Vladimir Nikiforovich Belkin — Doctor of Economics, Professor, Chief Researcher, Chelyabinsk Branch of the Institute of Economics of the Ural Branch of RAS (Chelyabinsk, Russian Federation; e-mail: akademiya28@bk.ru).

Nadezhda Andreevna Belkina — Doctor of Economics, Associate Professor, Leading Researcher, Chelyabinsk Branch of the Institute of Economics of the Ural Branch of RAS (Chelyabinsk, Russian Federation; e-mail: akademiya28@bk.ru).

Olga Anatolyevna Antonova — PhD in Economics, Associate Professor, Senior Researcher, Chelyabinsk Branch of the Institute of Economics of the Ural Branch of RAS; Associate Professor, Department of Labor Economics and Personnel Management, South Ural State University; Associate Professor, Department of State and Municipal Management, Chelyabinsk State University (Chelyabinsk, Russian Federation; e-mail: akademiya28@bk.ru).

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