(also known as malicious obedience
) is the behaviour of intentionally inflicting harm by strictly following the orders of a superior while knowing or intending that compliance with the orders will have an unintended or negative result. The term usually implies the following of an order in such a way that ignores or otherwise undermines the order's intent but follows it to the letter
It is a form of passive-aggressive behavior
that is often associated with poor management-labor relationships, micromanagement
, a generalized lack of confidence in leadership, and resistance to changes perceived as pointless, duplicative, dangerous, or otherwise undesirable. It is common in organizations with top-down management structures with poor morale, leadership, or mutual trust.
In many of the German folk tales about Eulenspiegel
, some of them incorporated into Charles De Coster
's The Legend of Thyl Ulenspiegel and Lamme Goedzak
(1867), Eulenspiegel is depicted as serving as an apprentice to various craftsman, each apprenticeship lasting only a short time and cut off when Eulenspiegel obeys the literal meaning of a Master's orders - causing the Master material damage, social shame or both, and being promptly dismissed.