An Experimental Examination of the Effects of Individual and Situational Factors on Unethical Behavioral Intentions in the Workplace

Chapter
Part of the Advances in Business Ethics Research book series (ABER, volume 2)

Abstract

Using a 2 × 2 × 2 experimental design, the effects of situational and individual variables on individuals’ intentions to act unethically were investigated. Specifically examined were three situational variables: (1) quality of the work experience (good versus poor), (2) peer influences (unethical versus ethical), and (3) managerial influences (unethical versus ethical), and three individual variables: (4) locus of control, (5) Machiavellianism, and (6) gender, on individuals’ behavioral intentions in an ethically ambiguous dilemma in an work setting. Experiment 1 revealed main effects for quality of work experience, Machiavellianism, locus of control, and an interaction effect for peer influences and managerial influences. Experiment 2 showed main effects for all three situational variables and Machiavellianism. Neither experiment supported gender differences. Limitations, future research, and implications for management are discussed.

Keywords

Behavioral Intention Unethical Behavior Situational Variable Managerial Influence Strong Main Effect 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

References

  1. Adams, J.S. 1965. Inequity in social exchange. In Advances in experimental social psychology, vol. 2, ed. L. Berkowitz, 267–299. San Diego: Academic.Google Scholar
  2. Ajzen, I.P. 1988. Attitudes, personality and behavior. Milton Keynes: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Akaah, I.P. 1989. Differences in research ethics judgments between male and female marketing professionals. Journal of Business Ethics 8: 375–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Altheide, D.L., P.A. Adler, P. Alder, and D.A. Altheide. 1978. The social meanings of employee theft. In Crime at the top, ed. J.M. Johnson and J.D. Douglas. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott.Google Scholar
  5. Baumhart, R.C. 1961. How ethical are businessmen? Harvard Business Review 39(4): 6–8.Google Scholar
  6. Bern, S.L. 1974. The measurement of psychological androgeny. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 42: 155–162.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bowman, J.S. 1976. Managerial ethics in business and government. Business Horizons 19: 48–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Brenner, S.N., and E.A. Molander. 1977. Is the ethics of business changing? Harvard Business Review 55(1): 57–71.Google Scholar
  9. Carroll, A.B. 1978. Linking business ethics to behavior in organizations. SAM Advance Management Journal 43: 4–11.Google Scholar
  10. Cavanagh, G.F., and D.J. Fritzsche. 1985. Using vignettes in business ethics research. Research in Corporate Social Performance and Policy, ed. L.E. Preston 7: 279–393. JAI Press.Google Scholar
  11. Chonko, L.B., and S.D. Hung. 1985. Ethics and marketing management: An empirical examination. Journal of Business Research 13: 339–359.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Christie, R., and F.L. Geis. 1970. Studies in Machiavellianism. New York: Academic.Google Scholar
  13. Coleman, J.W. 1991. Respectable crime. In Criminology, ed. J.F. Sheley. Belmont: Wadsworth.Google Scholar
  14. Collins, J.M., and F.L. Schmidt. 1993. Personality, integrity, and white collar crime: A construct validity study. Personnel Psychology 46: 295–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Crowne, D.P., and D. Marlowe. 1964. The approval motive. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  16. Dozier, J.B., and M.P. Miceli. 1985. Potential predictors of whistle-blowing: A prosocial behavior perspective. Academy of Management Review 10: 823–836.Google Scholar
  17. Ferrell, O.C., and L.G. Gresham. 1985. A contingency framework for understanding ethical decision making in marketing. Journal of Marketing 49: 87–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fishbein, M., and I.P. Ajzen. 1975. Belief, attitude, intention and behavior: An introduction to theory and research. Boston: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  19. Flynn, S., M. Reichard, and S. Slane. 1987. Cheating as a function of task outcome and Machiavellianism. The Journal of Psychology 121: 423–427.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Fritzsche, D.J. 1988. An examination of marketing ethics: Role of the decision maker, consequences of the decision, management position, and sex of the respondent. Journal of Macromarketing 8: 29–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Gough, H.G. 1990. The California psychological inventory. In Testing in counseling practice, ed. C.E. Watkins Jr. and V.L. Campbell, 37–62. Hillsdale: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.Google Scholar
  22. Greenberg, J. 1989. Cognitive re-evaluation of outcomes in response to underpayment inequity. Academy of Management Journal 32: 174–184.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Greenberg, J. 1990. Employee theft as a reaction to underpayment inequity: The hidden cost of pay cut. Journal of Applied Psychology 75: 561–568.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Hegarty, W.H., and H.P. Sims. 1978. Organizational philosophy, policies, and objectives related to unethical decision behavior: A laboratory experiment. Journal of Applied Psychology 64: 331–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hegarty, W.H., and H.P. Sims. 1979. Some determinants of unethical decision behavior: An experiment. Journal of Applied Psychology 63: 451–457.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hollinger, R.C., and J.P. Clark. 1982. Employee deviance: A response to the perceived quality of the work experience. Work and Occupations 9: 97–114.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hollinger, R.C., and J.P. Clark. 1983. Theft by employees. Lexington: Lexington Books.Google Scholar
  28. Horning, D.N.M. 1970. Blue collar theft: Conceptions of property, attitudes toward pilfering, and work group norms in a modern industrial plant. In Crimes against bureaucracy, ed. E.O. Smigel and H.L. Ross. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.Google Scholar
  29. Hung, S.D., and S. Vitell. 1986. A general theory of marketing ethics. Journal of Macromarketing 5: 5–16.Google Scholar
  30. Johnson, R.J. 1974. Conflict avoidance through acceptable decisions. Human Relations 27: 71–82.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kemper, T.D. 1966. Representative roles and the legitimation of deviance. Social Problems 13: 288–298.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Kidwell, J.M., R.E. Stevens, and A.L. Bethke. 1987. Differences in ethical perceptions between male and female managers: Myth or reality? Journal of Business Ethics 6: 489–493.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Knight-Ridder. 1993. Stealing from work – bad for business. Times Union Extra 1–2. Google Scholar
  34. Lefcourt, H.M. 1982. Locus of control: Current trends in theory and research, 2nd ed. Hillsdale: Erlbaum.Google Scholar
  35. Lefcourt, H.M., and J. Wine. 1969. Internal versus external control of reinforcement and the deployment of attention in experimental situations. Canadian Journal of Behavioral Science 1: 167–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Lincoln, D.J., M.M. Pressley, and T. Little. 1982. Ethical beliefs and personal values of top level executive. Journal of Business Research 10: 475–487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Machiavelli, N. 1966. The prince. New York: Bantam (Originally published in 1513).Google Scholar
  38. Merriam, D. 1977. Employee theft. Criminal Justice Abstracts 9: 380–386.Google Scholar
  39. Newstrom, J.W., and W.A. Ruch. 1975. The ethics of management and the management of ethics. MSU Business Topics 23: 29–37.Google Scholar
  40. Patterson, J., and P. Kim. 1991. The day America told the truth. New York: Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  41. Rotter, J.B. 1966. Generalized expectancies for internal versus external control of reinforcement. Psychological Monographs: General and Applied 80: 1–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sackett, P.R., and M.N. Harris. 1984. Honesty testing for personnel selection: A review and critique. Personnel Psychology 37: 221–245.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sackett, P.R., L.R. Burris, and C. Callahan. 1989. Integrity testing for personnel selection: An update. Personnel Psychology 42: 491–529.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Schein, E.H. 1984. Coming to a new awareness of organizational culture. Sloan Management Review 25: 3–16.Google Scholar
  45. Seeman, M. 1963. Alienation and social learning in a reformatory. American Journal of Sociology 69: 270–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Spector, P.E. 1982. Behavior in organizations as a function of employees’ locus of control. Psychological Bulletin 91: 482–497.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Steel, R.P., and N.K. Ovalle. 1984. A review and meta-analysis of research on the relationship between behavioral intentions and employee turnover. Journal of Applied Psychology 69: 673–686.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Stratton, W.E., W.R. Flynn, and G.A. Johnson. 1981. Moral development and decision making: A study of student ethics. Journal of Enterprise Management 3: 35–41.Google Scholar
  49. Sutherland, E.H. 1949. White collar crime. Rhinehart/New York: Holt/Winston.Google Scholar
  50. Sutherland, E.H. 1983. White collar crime: The uncut version. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  51. Trevino, L.K. 1986. Ethical decision making in organizations: A person-situation interactionist model. Academy of Management Review 11: 601–617.Google Scholar
  52. Trevino, L.K., and B. Victor. 1992. Peer reporting of unethical behavior: A social context perspective. Academy of Management Journal 35: 38–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Trevino, L.K., and S.A. Youngblood. 1990. Bad apples in bad barrels: A causal analysis of ethical decision-making behavior. Journal of Applied Psychology 75: 378–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Tubbs, M.E., and S.E. Ekeberg. 1991. The role of intentions in work motivation: Implications for goal-setting theory and research. Academy of Management Review 18: 180–199.Google Scholar
  55. Zey-Ferrell, M., and O.C. Ferrell. 1982. Role set configuration and opportunity as predictors of unethical behavior in organizations. Human Relations 35: 587–604.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Zey-Ferrell, M., K.M. Weaver, and O.C. Ferrell. 1979. Predicting unethical behavior among marketing practitioners. Human Relations 32: 557–569.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of ManagementFairleigh Dickinson UniversityMadisonUSA
  2. 2.Department of ManagementState University of New YorkAlbanyUSA

Personalised recommendations