This week’s articles consider the perception of good moral behaviour compared to the reality.
Bad people doing good things: Attributions about people with immoral traits
Perfect duties are those required by moral individuals, whereas imperfect duties, although not required, are expected of moral individuals. Previous research suggests it takes fewer perfect than imperfect duty violations to override an existing impression of a person as moral.
Presently, the authors examine moral attributions about immoral people performing moral behaviours. Across four studies, the authors assessed whether initial impressions of a person as immoral are reversible, and if so, what is the mechanism of these changes in impressions of people with immoral traits? In order to do so, the authors measured how many moral behaviours are required to reverse them. The authors also assessed the mediating role of affect and intent in these moral attributions, and assessed perceptions of how easy it is for actors to perform moral behaviours.
The results suggest that imperfect duty behaviours revised previous negative impressions more easily than perfect duty behaviours. In addition, intention, but not affect, partially mediated the relationship between moral violation type and moral attributions. Further implications are discussed.
Sieun An, Michael J. Marks, David Trafimow and Mark Fedyk. 2019. Bad people doing good things: Attributions about people with immoral traits.
Current Psychology, available at https://doi.org/10.1007/s12144-019-00292-z
Why we attribute moral values to those who work hard
The Protestant Work Ethic (PWE) is a powerful force in Western culture with far reaching effects on our values and judgments. While research on PWE as a cultural value is abundant in diverse disciplines, little research has explored how this cultural value facilitates the use of heuristics when evaluating the morality of others.
Using both PWE and illusory correlation as foundations, this paper explores whether people attribute positive moral characteristics to others merely based upon a description as hardworking. Three experiments suggest merely being described as hardworking leads to perceptions of greater honesty, a more careful and detailed approach to one’s work, accompanied by a lesser likelihood of engaging in cheating behaviour and a greater likelihood of accountability. These results have implications regarding the detection of deviant/fraudulent behaviour.
Clinton Amos, Lixuan Zhang & David Read. 2019. Hardworking as a Heuristic for Moral Character: Why We Attribute Moral Values to Those Who Work Hard and Its Implications.
Journal of Business Ethics, 158(4), 1047–1062.
Organisational architecture, ethical culture and perceived unethical behaviour towards banking customers
In this study, the authors propose and test a model of the effects of organisational ethical culture and organisational architecture on the perceived unethical behaviour of employees towards customers. This study also examines the relationship between organisational ethical culture and moral acceptability judgment, hypothesising that moral acceptability judgment is an important stage in the ethical decision-making process.
Based on a field study in one of the largest financial institutions in Europe, the authors found that organisational ethical culture was significantly related to the perceived frequency of unethical behaviour towards customers and to the moral acceptability judgment of this type of unethical behaviour.
No support was found for the claim that features of organisational architecture are associated with the perceived frequency of unethical behaviour towards customers. This is the first study to document the differential effects of organisational architecture and organisational ethical culture on perceived unethical behaviour of employees towards customers, in wholesale banking.
Implications for managers and future research are discussed.
Raymond O. S. Zaal, Ronald J. M. Jeurissen and Edward A. G. Groenland. 2019. Organizational Architecture, Ethical Culture, and Perceived Unethical Behavior Towards Customers: Evidence from Wholesale Banking.
Journal of Business Ethics, 158(3), 825–848.
Understanding Protestant and Islamic work ethic studies
This study focuses on two main arguments about the secularisation of Protestant work ethic (PWE) and the uniqueness of Islamic work ethic (IWE).
By adopting a linguistic point of view, this study aims to grasp a common understanding of PWE and IWE in the field of work ethic research. For this purpose, 109 articles using the keywords PWE and IWE in their titles were analysed using content analysis. The findings support the argument that emphasises universally shared values of PWE.
In addition, the findings reveal that IWE provides a unique perspective on how to improve organisational performance, but at the same time differs in work orientation and commitment across cultures.
R. Arzu Kalemci & Ipek Kalemci Tuzun. 2019. Understanding Protestant and Islamic Work Ethic Studies: A Content Analysis of Articles.
Journal of Business Ethics, 158(4), 999–1008.
Individual work values and unethical decision-making
This paper explores the relationship between individual work values and unethical decision-making and actual behaviour at work through two complementary studies.
Specifically, the authors use a robust and comprehensive model of individual work values to predict unethical decision-making in a sample of working professionals and accounting students enrolled in ethics courses, and IT employees working in sales and customer service.
Study 1 demonstrates that young professionals who rate power as a relatively important value (i.e., those reporting high levels of the self-enhancement value) are more likely to violate professional conduct guidelines despite receiving training regarding ethical professional principles.
Study 2, which examines a group of employees from an IT firm, demonstrates that those rating power as an important value are more likely to engage in non-work-related computing (i.e., cyberloafing) even when they are aware of a monitoring software that tracks their computer usage and an explicit policy prohibiting the use of these computers for personal reasons.
Luis M. Arciniega, Laura J. Stanley, Diana Puga-Méndez, Dalia Obregón-Schael & Isaac Politi-Salame. 2019. The Relationship Between Individual Work Values and Unethical Decision-Making and Behavior at Work.
Journal of Business Ethics, 158(4), 1133–1148.
Attraction, applicant’s moral identity and firm performance
Both the organisation and recruiter provide signals to candidates that ultimately affect organisational attraction. Ethics is an important area that communicates vital information to candidates.
Drawing on social identity theory, signalling theory, and person–organisation fit, this study finds that ethical signals during the recruitment process do affect applicant attraction. Additionally, two important moderators, self-importance of moral identity and firm performance were examined. Using a robust laboratory study (n = 665), this research found results generally consistent with the hypothesised relationships.
Sandra W. DeGrassi. 2019. The Role of the Applicant’s Moral Identity and the Firm’s Performance on the Ethical Signals/Organization Attraction Relationship.
Journal of Business Ethics, 158(4), 923–935.
The ironic effects of disclosing personal information about ethnically distinct newcomers
Recently, scholars have argued that disclosure of personal information is an effective mechanism for building high-quality relationships. However, personal information can focus attention on differences in demographically diverse teams.
In an experiment using 37 undergraduate teams, the authors examine how sharing personal information by ethnically similar and ethnically distinct newcomers to a team affects team perceptions, performance, and behaviour. The findings indicate that the disclosure of personal information by ethnically distinct newcomers improves team performance. However, the positive impact on team performance comes at a cost to the newcomers, who are perceived as less competent by others and experience heightened social discomfort in team interactions.
Ironically, what benefits the ethnically diverse team may undermine its ethnically distinct members. This study highlights how the management of diversity may sometimes require making trade-offs between individual interests and those of the team.
Bret Crane, Melissa Thomas-Hunt & Selin Kesebir. 2019. To Disclose or Not to Disclose: The Ironic Effects of the Disclosure of Personal Information About Ethnically Distinct Newcomers to a Team.
Journal of Business Ethics, 158(4), 909–921.
How auditor-CEO surnames influence financial misstatement
This study examines the influence of auditor-CEO surname sharing (ACSS) on financial misstatement and further investigates whether the above effect depends on hometown relationship and the rarity of surnames, respectively. Using hand-collected data from China, the findings show that ACSS is significantly positively related to financial misstatement, suggesting that the auditor-CEO ancestry membership elicits the collusion and increases the likelihood of financial misstatement.
Moreover, ACSS based upon hometown relationship leads to significantly higher likelihood of financial misstatement, compared with ACSS without hometown relationship. Furthermore, the positive relation between ACSS and financial misstatement is more pronounced for rare surnames than for common surnames.
The above findings are robust to sensitivity tests on the basis of different measures of ACSS and financial misstatement, and my conclusions are still valid after using the propensity score matching approach to address the endogeneity concerns.
Xingqiang Du. 2019. What’s in a Surname? The Effect of Auditor-CEO Surname Sharing on Financial Misstatement.
Journal of Business Ethics, 158(3), 849–874.