Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 81, Issue 1, pp 63–81 | Cite as

Understanding the Ethical Cost of Organizational Goal-Setting: A Review and Theory Development

  • Adam Barsky


Goal-setting has become a popular and effective motivational tool, utilized by practitioners and substantiated with decades of empirical research. However, the potential for goal-setting to enhance performance may come at the cost of ethical behavior. I propose a theoretical model linking attributes of goals and goal-setting practices to unethical behavior through two psychological mechanisms – ethical recognition and moral disengagement; and addressing the moderating role of individual differences (e.g., goal-commitment and conscientiousness), as well as the broader organizational ethical context.


business ethics corruption goal-setting motivation self-regulation 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ManagementUniversity of MelbourneParkvilleAustralia

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