Home/Working Papers/Investigating the Effects of Moral Disengagement and Participation on Unethical Work
Investigating the Effects of Moral Disengagement and Participation on Unethical Work
Código: WPE – 069
Adam J. Barsky
Michael J. Zyphur
With massive corruption uncovered in numerous recent corporate scandals, investigatingthe reasons for unethical behavior in organizations has become a critical area of research for organizational scientists. This paper seeks to explain why people engage in unethical behavior by forcing on the use of rationalizations to justify egregious actions at work, termed moral disengagement. Further, we predicted that allowing employees to participate in setting performance goals would both decrease the incidence of unethical behavior as well as attenuate the relationship between moral disengagement and unethical behavior. Across two studies, a lab simulation and field survey, we developed a measure of moral disengagement for use with working adults, and tested our propositions. Hypothesized relationships between disengagement, participation, and unethical behavior were largely confirmed. Implications and future directions are discussed.