Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 123, Issue 2, pp 221–233 | Cite as

Are Workers More Likely to be Deviant than Managers? A Cross-National Analysis

  • Chung-wen ChenEmail author


Using Robert Merton’s perspective on social structure [Social theory and structure. Free Press, New York, 1968], this study tested the individual-level association between job position and ethical reasoning. Anomie theory was employed to examine how country-level factors moderate that individual-level association. The hierarchical linear modeling (HLM) method was used to analyze 22,359 subjects from 28 nations. The statistical results proved that workers are more likely to justify ethically suspect behaviors, and that this individual-level relationship is moderated by the country-level factors of power distance, masculinity, social inequality, and education accessibility. These results imply that Merton’s view of social structure and contemporary anomie theorists’ perspective of anomie [Messner and Rosenfeld (Crime and the American dream. Wadsworth, Belmont, 2001); Rosenfeld and Messner (The future of anomie theory. Northeastern University Press, Boston, 1997)] are mutually complementary rather than exclusive.


Anomie theory Ethical reasoning Hierarchical linear modeling Job position Social structure 



Special thanks to China Foundation for the Promotion of Education and Culture that provided financial assistance for the paper presentation at 2012 AAOM.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of ManagementNational Taiwan University of Science and TechnologyTaipei CityTaiwan

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