Exploring the Unfathomable Causes of Dysfunctional Behaviours in the Ghanaian Public Service: Perspectives of Social Capital

Anthony Kumasey, Farhad Hossain

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – Global concerns over dysfunctional behaviours including bribery and corruption, embezzlement of funds and other conducts by leaders and public officials have become ubiquitous in organizations. Although national and organizational systems have been instituted to make these behaviours a high-risk and low-gain activity, these behaviours have been pervasive in the moral psyche of nations, especially in developing countries. The purpose of
this study is to examine the underpinning factors exacerbating dysfunctional behaviours in Ghana’s Public Service (GPS) and link these causes to social capital theory.

Design/methodology/approach - This is a qualitative case study, which employed semistructured interviews, focus group discussions (FGD) and documentary reviews as the data collection instruments. In all, twenty in-depth interviews and four FGD were conducted.

Findings – The following were used to explain how social capital contributes to dysfunctional behaviours; the extended family system, respect for the elderly, moral tone of the nation and in-group member effect, organizational politics and politicization of the service.

Practical Implication - HR has a crucial role in intervening to ameliorate this challenge. The mechanisms to deploy include the development of employee awareness and skills on ethical behaviours, instituting ethical governance culture, encouraging, rewarding ethical behaviour and introducing effective performance management systems. This will enhance employees’
behaviours and ensure improved engagement and overall good governance practices and ethical behaviour.

Originality/value –The main value of this research is its contribution in bringing to the fore some underlying causes of dysfunctional behaviours in the public service of developing

Keywords: Dysfunctional behaviours, social capital theory, public service, Ghana
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)579-594
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Public Sector Management
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2020


  • Dysfunctional behaviours
  • Ghana
  • Public service
  • Social capital theory

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Global Development Institute


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