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

  • Gwen E. Jones
  • Michael J. Kavanagh
Part of the Advances in Business Ethics Research book series (ABER, volume 2)


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.


Behavioral Intention Unethical Behavior Situational Variable Managerial Influence Strong Main Effect 
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© 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

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