A-Z Popular Blog Politics Search »
Organizational Culture
Related Guides

What is Malicious Compliance?

 , updated on
Malicious compliance occurs when an employee uses an organization's own rules, processes and procedures against it by taking them too seriously or literally. It is often motivated by a grievance or resistance to change.


Work-to-rule is an organized version of malicious compliance conducted by organized labour. It typically involves doing the minimum as required by contract and taking rules overly seriously and literally to the point that work slows towards a standstill.

Illustrative Example

A customer service representative at an airline may invoke obscure administrative and security protocols on every passenger as a means of slowing down work and lowering customer satisfaction. Such procedures may be in the rule books of the airline but are intended to be used with discretion. Technically the employee isn't breaking the rules but each customer they serve has a terrible experience that damages the airline's reputation.
Overview: Malicious Compliance
Using an organization's own rules, processes and procedures against it by applying them in an unproductive or unreasonable way.
Related Concepts

Office Politics

This is the complete list of articles we have written about office politics.
Abilene Paradox
Blame Shifting
Change Fatigue
Cold Logic
Cruel Wit
Devils Advocate
Difficult Behaviors
Failing Upwards
Fear Of Youth
Internal Competition
Loaded Question
Loss Of Face
Malicious Compliance
Negative Selection
Not Even Wrong
Nudge Theory
Passive Aggressive
Petty Authority
Political Capital
Professional Life
Saving Face
Social Influence
Social Proof
Tit For Tat
Trained Incapacity
Workplace Culture
Yes People
More ...
If you enjoyed this page, please consider bookmarking Simplicable.

Office Politics

A list of social processes, absurdities and strategies related to office politics.

Setting Up To Fail

A malicious political strategy.

Schedule Chicken

At the intersection of project management and game theory.

Catch 22

The catch-22 logical paradox explained.

Professional Conduct

The primary elements of professional conduct.


The common types of inefficiency.

Petty Authority

An overview of petty authority.


The definition of whataboutism with examples.

Corporate Culture

The basic elements of a corporate culture.


The definition of sidelining in business with examples.

Organizational Culture

An overview of organizational culture with examples.

Change Fatigue

An overview of organizational change fatigue.

Disability Etiquette

A few basics of disability etiquette.


An overview of cosmopolitanism.

Organizational Failure

Types of significant failure at the organizational level.


A definition of onboarding with examples.


A definition of principles with business examples.

Bozo Explosion

An overview of bozo explosion.

Corporate Memory

A definition of corporate memory with examples.

Organizational Capital

A definition of organizational capital with examples.
The most popular articles on Simplicable in the past day.

New Articles

Recent posts or updates on Simplicable.
Site Map