Our research tidbits this week looks at the influence of the workplace culture on one’s own personal ethical behaviour.

Workplace spirituality, ethical climate and outcomes
The role and influence of workplace spirituality on individual and organisational outcomes continue to draw attention among management scholars.

Despite this increased attention, extant literature has yielded limited insights particularly into the impact and influence processes of workplace spirituality on performance outcomes at both the individual and unit levels of analysis. Addressing this gap in research, the authors proposed and tested a multilevel model, underpinned by social cognitive theory, that examines the processes linking perceptions of workplace spirituality and performance outcomes at the individual and organisational level of analysis.

Data were obtained from 51 branches of a retail organisation in the United Kingdom. Results from structural equation modelling analysis revealed three salient findings.
First, workplace spirituality was positively related to ethical climate, prosocial motivation, and moral judgment.
Second, ethical climate partially mediated the relationship between workplace spirituality and prosocial motivation and moral judgment, respectively.
Third, aggregated ethical climate significantly relates to branch-level helping behaviour and service performance.

Read this Open Access article online for free

Lilian Otaye-Ebede, Samah Shaffakat & Scott Foster. 2020. A Multilevel Model Examining the Relationships Between Workplace Spirituality, Ethical Climate and Outcomes: A Social Cognitive Theory Perspective.

Journal of Business Ethics, 166(3), 611–626.

The Pied Piper: Prizes, Incentives, and Motivation Crowding-in
In mainstream business and economics, prizes such as the Presidential Medal of Freedom are understood as special types of incentives, with the peculiar features of being awarded in public, and of having largely symbolic value.

Informed by both historical considerations and philosophical instances, this study defines fundamental theoretical differences between incentives and prizes. The conceptual factors highlighted by the analytical framework are then tested through a laboratory experiment. The experimental exercise aims to analyse how prizes and incentives impact actual individuals’ behaviour differently.

The results show that both incentives (monetary and contingent) and prizes (non-monetary and discretional rewards) boost motivation to perform if awarded publicly, but only prizes crowd in motivation promoting virtuous attitude.

Luigino Bruni, Vittorio Pelligra, Tommaso Reggiani & Matteo Rizzolli. 2020. The Pied Piper: Prizes, Incentives, and Motivation Crowding-in.

Journal of Business Ethics, 166(3), 643–658.

The ethical dimension of equity incentives in executive compensation and pension funding
We draw on the behavioural agency model to explore the ethical consequences of CEO equity incentives. The authors argue that CEOs are more concerned with funding pension plans when they have more to gain from their stock options yet will increasingly underfund employee pension funds as their current option wealth increases.

The findings reveal that both effects hold when the CEO has greater power (also occupying board chair) over firm decision making. The study suggests that there is an ethical dimension to equity incentives, given they are intended to align CEO interests with shareholders, yet potentially incentivise CEO behaviours with adverse consequences for employees.

Insights from the findings provide boards and regulators with behavioural levers to protect employee well-being in the context of pension funding.

Geoffrey P. Martin, Robert M. Wiseman & Luis R. Gomez-Mejia. 2020. The Ethical Dimension of Equity Incentives: A Behavioral Agency Examination of Executive Compensation and Pension Funding.

Journal of Business Ethics, 166(3), 595–610.

Perpetrator Gender Influences Reactions to Premeditated Versus Impulsive Unethical Behaviour
A significant body of research has emerged in order to better understand unethical behaviour at work and how gender plays a role in the process. In this study, the authors look to add to this literature by exploring how perpetrator gender influences reactions to distinct types of unethicality.

Rather than viewing unethical behaviour as a unitary construct, where all forms of lying, cheating, and stealing are the same, the authors integrate theories and concepts from the criminal justice and moral psychology literatures to categorise certain unethical behaviours as either impulsive or premeditated. Given the agentic nature of premeditated unethical behaviour, the authors draw from role congruity theory to predict that women will be punished more severely than men for their role incongruous actions. Impulsive unethical behaviour, on the other hand, will be less likely to elicit perceptions of congruity or incongruity, leading to less of a gender effect.

Results from three studies sampling both undergraduates and working adults in the United States, Singapore, and South Korea showed that participants were more likely to associate premeditated unethical behaviour with a male perpetrator because it was seen as less feminine (Study 1), and female perpetrators who engaged in premeditated unethical behaviour received more severe punishment than male perpetrators due to the perceived role incongruity of their actions (Study 2 and Study 3). Implications are discussed as well as possible limitations and directions for future research.

Ke Michael Mai, Aleksander P. J. Ellis & David T. Welsh. 2020. How Perpetrator Gender Influences Reactions to Premeditated Versus Impulsive Unethical Behavior: A Role Congruity Approach.

Journal of Business Ethics, 166(3), 489–503.

How individual behaviour and organisational commitment enhance Islamic work ethics at Royal Malaysian Air Force
This study examines the influences of individual behaviour and organisational commitment towards the enhancement of Islamic Work Ethics (IWE) at the Royal Malaysian Air Force.

It involved 312 respondents of different backgrounds and the data were analysed using descriptive analysis and structural equation modelling (SEM) analysis. The results show that both individual behaviour and organisational commitment have significantly correlated with the enhancement of IWE.

The findings could help managers especially of multinational corporations operating in Muslim countries to enhance the company performances by instituting elements of IWE in their organisations. This can be done by promoting the understanding of IWE and providing a conducive environment to practice it.

Wan Norhasniah Wan Husin & Nur Farahana Zul Kernain. 2020. The Influence of Individual Behaviour and Organizational Commitment Towards the Enhancement of Islamic Work Ethics at Royal Malaysian Air Force.

Journal of Business Ethics, 166(3), 523–533.