The purpose of this study was to explore how team members identify the social loafers on their teams and how they explain and manage social loafers’ behavior. The participants (n=49) in the study included members of student teams participating in a service project as a part of their coursework. We collected multiple sources of information: in-depth interviews, reflection journals, peer evaluations, and observations of team members interacting. Using attribution theory and status characteristics theory we describe how team members identify social loafer and explain the causes of their behavior. We also explore how those attributions affect team members’ interactions with the social loafers. The status of social loafers in the eyes of their teammates affects teammates’ willingness to accommodate or reject the social loafer. We identify strategies used by team members to manage the behavior of social loafers. We conclude with recommendations for practice and future research on social loafing.

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© 2015 Association of Leadership Educators

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