A selection of interesting articles we found recently on the downsides to being ethical.
Doing bad to feel better? Counterproductive work behaviour as a coping tactic
Employee counterproductive work behaviour (CWB, e.g., theft, production deviance, interpersonal abuse) is costly to organisations and those who work within them. Evidence suggests that employees are motivated to engage in CWB because they believe that these behaviours will make them feel better in response to negative workplace events. However, research has yet to consider the situational and individual factors that shape the extent to which employees view CWB in such a manner.
In order to provide insight into the decision-making process surrounding the use of CWB as a coping strategy, this study leverages coping theory to examine the factors (both situational/within-person and individual/between-person) that contribute to employees’ beliefs that CWBs will be instrumental for emotion regulation aims in response to workplace stressors. In a repeated measures scenario-based study of 297 employees, Mindy Shoss et al. found that individuals’ perceived coping instrumentalities for CWBs are a function of the controllability and source of the stressor as well as a more stable learned response to stressful situations at work.
Read further at: Mindy K. Shoss, Dustin K. Jundt, Allison Kobler & Clair Reynolds. 2016. Doing Bad to Feel Better? An Investigation of Within- and Between-Person Perceptions of Counterproductive Work Behavior as a Coping Tactic.
Journal of Business Ethics, 137(3), 571-587.
Paradox in ethics and well-being
Following on theoretical work and studies that assert a relationship between unethical activities and diminished well-being, and a common belief that those more ethically inclined experience greater well-being, the present study examined whether individual differences in ethical orientation may be associated with the experience of well-being.
This paper reports the findings of two separate studies showing that individual differences in moral attentiveness, moral identity, idealism, relativism, and integrity were associated with differences in a wide range of well-being measures. Of particular significance is not all ethical orientations were found to contribute to well-being. In fact, some negatively impacted individual levels of well-being. Implications for integrating these new findings into existing ethical theory and considerations for future research are explored.
Read further at: Robert A. Giacalone, Carole L. Jurkiewicz & Mark Promislo. 2016. Ethics and Well-Being: The Paradoxical Implications of Individual Differences in Ethical Orientation.
Journal of Business Ethics, 137(3), 491-506.
The downside of being responsible: CSR and tail risk
This paper assesses the relationship between corporate social responsibility (CSR) and downside equity tail risk, a field of research that is underdeveloped at this moment. Using global equities data over the period of January 2003 to December 2011, inclusive, the downside tail risk of each company is estimated using techniques of extreme value theory and CSR is approached using stakeholder theory.
The findings show a significant relationship between certain aspects of CSR and downside tail risk. The nature of the relationship differs across region, stakeholder and time. Furthermore, the relationships the researchers found are sequential, which makes a causal link between CSR and tail risk plausible.
See more at: Diemont, D., Moore, K. & Soppe, A. The Downside of Being Responsible: Corporate Social Responsibility and Tail Risk.
Journal of Business Ethics, 2016, 137(2), 213–229.
When bosses are morally disengaged
The popular press is often fraught with high-profile illustrations of leader unethical conduct within corporations. Leader unethical conduct is undesirable for many reasons, but in terms of managing subordinates, it is particularly problematic because leaders directly influence the ethics of their followers. Yet, we know relatively little about why leaders fail to apply ethical leadership practices.
Bonner et al. argue that some leaders cognitively remove the personal sanctions associated with misconduct, which provides them with the “freedom” to ignore ethical shortcomings. Drawing on moral disengagement theory (Bandura 1986, 1999), the researchers examine the relationship between supervisor moral disengagement and employee perceptions of ethical leadership. They then examine the moderating role of employee moral disengagement, such that the negative relationship between supervisor moral disengagement and employee perceptions of ethical leadership is stronger when employee moral disengagement is low versus high.
Finally, Bonner et al. examine ethical leadership as a conditional mediator (based on employee moral disengagement) that explains that relationship between supervisor moral disengagement and employee job performance and organisational citizenship behaviour (OCB). Results from a multi-source field survey provide general support for their theoretical model.
Find more at: Bonner, J.M., Greenbaum, R.L. & Mayer, D.M. 2016. My boss is morally disengaged: the role of ethical leadership in explaining the interactive effect of supervisor and employee moral disengagement on employee behaviors.
Journal Business Ethics, 137(4), 731–742.
The “right” and the “good” in ethical leadership: Implications for supervisors’ performance and promotability evaluations
Substantial research demonstrates that ethical leaders improve a broad range of outcomes for their employees, but considerably less attention has been devoted to the performance and success of the leaders themselves. The present study explores the extent to which being ethical relates to leaders’ performance and promotability.
These authors address this question by examining ethical leadership from the two ethical perspectives most common in Western traditions—i.e., the “right” and the “good”—and whether one might be more closely associated than the other with performance and promotability evaluations.
Results from 117 employee-supervisor-manager triads show that supervisors with a deontological outlook are more likely to be seen as ethical leaders (given current conceptualisations of the construct) and that utilitarian leaders are more likely to earn higher performance evaluations (above these current conceptions). The researchers discuss the implications of these findings for research on ethical leadership.
For more detail, see: Letwin, C., Wo, D., Folger, R. et al. 2016. The “Right” and the “Good” in Ethical Leadership: Implications for Supervisors’ Performance and Promotability Evaluations.
Journal of Business Ethics, 137(4), 743–755.
Moral repair to interpersonal harm at work
The topic of moral repair in the aftermath of breaches of trust and harm-doing has grown in importance within the past few years.
In this paper, Jerry Goodstein and his team present the results of a qualitative study that offers insight into a series of key issues related to offender efforts to repair interpersonal harm in the workplace:
(1) What factors motivate offenders to make amends with those they have harmed?
(2) In what ways do offenders attempt to make amends?
(3) What outcomes emerge from attempts to make amends?
Drawing from the findings, the researchers build an inductive model intended to guide future business ethics and management inquiry and research in this area.
For more detail, see: Goodstein, J., Butterfield, K. & Neale, N. 2016. Moral repair in the workplace: a qualitative investigation and inductive model.
Journal of Business Ethics, 138(1), 17-37.