The role of moral decoupling in the causes and consequences of unethical pro-organizational behavior

Ryan Fehr, David Welsh, Kai Chi Yam, Michael Baer, Wu Wei, Manuel Vaulont

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this paper we explore the antecedents and consequences of employees’ unethical pro-organizational behavior (UPB) through the lens of moral decoupling—a moral reasoning process whereby individuals separate their perceptions of morality from their perceptions of performance. First, we argue that employees increase their engagement in UPBs when they (1) see their supervisors doing the same and (2) believe that their supervisors endorse moral decoupling. Second, we argue that employees’ UPBs are only positively related to supervisors’ evaluations of their job performance when supervisors themselves report that they morally decouple. We test these hypotheses in a field sample of supervisor–employee dyads and two experimental studies. This combination of studies highlights the complex link between ethics and perceptions of performance within organizations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-40
Number of pages14
JournalOrganizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
Volume153
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2019

Keywords

  • Ethics
  • Moral decoupling
  • Morality
  • Performance
  • Unethical pro-organizational behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management

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