This study examined some ethical implications of two different individual competitive orientations. Winning is crucially important in hypercompetitiveness, whereas a personal development (PD) perspective considers competition as a means to self-discovery and self-improvement. In a sample of 263 senior-level undergraduate business students, survey results suggested that hypercompetitiveness was generally associated with “poor ethics” and PD competitiveness was linked with “high ethics”. For example, hypercompetitive individuals generally saw nothing wrong with self-interested gain at the expense of others, but PD competitors viewed such activities as largely inappropriate. Hypercompetitive people also tended to be highly Machiavellian but not ethically idealistic. In contrast, PD competitors tended to be ethically idealistic but not Machiavellian. Managers that are interested in both high ethics and high functioning work groups may wish to consider the potential importance of attempting to channel hypercompetitive tendencies into PD directions.
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If individuals who score highly on hypercompetitiveness are inclined toward “poor ethics,” and many of these same individuals also tend to score highly on PD competitiveness, then relationships between PD competitiveness and “high ethics” will be weaker than they would otherwise be. If individuals who score highly on PD competitiveness are inclined toward “high ethics,” and many of these same individuals also tend to be hypercompetitive, then relationships between hypercompetitiveness and “poor ethics” will be attenuated.
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Mudrack, P.E., Bloodgood, J.M. & Turnley, W.H. Some Ethical Implications of Individual Competitiveness. J Bus Ethics 108, 347–359 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-011-1094-4
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