Chen, Mo; Chen, Chao C.; Sheldon, Oliver J.
Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol 101(8), Aug 2016, 1082-1096.
Drawing on social identity theory and social–cognitive theory, we hypothesize that organizational identification predicts unethical pro-organizational behavior (UPB) through the mediation of moral disengagement. We further propose that competitive interorganizational relations enhance the hypothesized relationships. Three studies conducted in China and the United States using both survey and vignette methodologies provided convergent support for our model. Study 1 revealed that higher organizational identifiers engaged in more UPB, and that this effect was mediated by moral disengagement. Study 2 found that organizational identification once again predicted UPB through the mediation of moral disengagement, and that the mediation relationship was stronger when employees perceived a higher level of industry competition. Finally, Study 3 replicated the above findings using a vignette experiment to provide stronger evidence of causality. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
Managerial Implications Section
In addition to these theoretical contributions, it is also worth briefly touching upon some implications of the present research for managerial practice. Unethical behaviors have proven costly for organizations (Cialdini et al., 2004), especially those behaviors conducted in the name of the organization, which are more likely to undermine stakeholders' organizational trust or even cause the collapse of an organization. In view of the dark side of organizational identification, managers should be aware of blind allegiance and loyalty to the organization among their employees and instead emphasize the importance of social responsibility and caring for all stakeholders. The linkage between organizational identification and moral disengagement we document here suggests that loyal organizational members are under greater pressure to relax their moral reasoning to execute their citizenship behavior, especially when stakes are high in a competitive environment. To counterbalance the tendency toward moral disengagement, organizations and managers need to clearly highlight the importance of hyper ethical values in organizational policies and practices and integrate such ethical standards into managerial decision-making. At the same time, organizations should strive to create a culture of social responsibility so as to reduce UPB (May et al., 2015) and reinforce ethical pro-organizational behavior.
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