Journal of Business Ethics

, 104:59 | Cite as

Investigating the Effects of Moral Disengagement and Participation on Unethical Work Behavior

  • Adam BarskyEmail author


With massive corruption uncovered in numerous recent corporate scandals, investigating psychological processes underlying unethical behavior among employees has become a critical area of research for organizational scientists. This article seeks to explain why people engage in deceptive and fraudulent activities by focusing on the use of moral-disengagement tactics or rationalizations to justify egregious actions at work. In addition, participation in goal-setting is argued to attenuate the relationship between moral disengagement and unethical behavior. Across two studies, a lab simulation and field survey, a measure of moral disengagement was developed for use with working adults. The hypothesized main and interactive effects of moral disengagement, participation, and unethical behavior were tested and largely confirmed.


Moral disengagement Business ethics Participation Self-regulation 


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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Management and MarketingThe University of MelbourneMelbourneAustralia

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