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Compliant sinners, obstinate saints: How power and self-focus determine the effectiveness of social influences in ethical decision making

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Author Info

  • Marko Pitesa

    ()
    (GEM - Grenoble Ecole de Management - Grenoble École de Management (GEM))

  • Stefan Thau

    ()
    (LBS - London Business School - London Business School)

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    Abstract

    In this research, we examine when and why organizational environments influence how employees respond to moral issues. Past research proposed that social influences in organizations affect employees' ethical decision making, but did not explain when and why some individuals are affected by the organizational environment and some disregard it. To address this problem, we drew on research on power to propose that power makes people more self-focused, which, in turn, makes them more likely to act upon their preferences and ignore (un)ethical social influences. Using both experimental and field methods, we tested our model across the three main paradigms of social influence: informational influence (Study 1 and 2), normative influence (Study 3), and compliance (Study 4). Results offer converging evidence for our theory.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by HAL in its series Grenoble Ecole de Management (Post-Print) with number hal-00814614.

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    Date of creation: 03 Jun 2013
    Date of revision:
    Publication status: Published, Academy of Management Journal, 2013, 56, 3, 635-658
    Handle: RePEc:hal:gemptp:hal-00814614

    Note: View the original document on HAL open archive server: http://hal.grenoble-em.com/hal-00814614
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    Related research

    Keywords: ethical decision making; power; social influences; self-focus;

    This paper has been announced in the following NEP Reports:

    References

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    1. Lamar Pierce & Jason Snyder, 2008. "Ethical Spillovers in Firms: Evidence from Vehicle Emissions Testing," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 54(11), pages 1891-1903, November.
    2. Brent McFerran & Darren W. Dahl & Gavan J. Fitzsimons & Andrea C. Morales, 2010. "I'll Have What She's Having: Effects of Social Influence and Body Type on the Food Choices of Others," Journal of Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 36(6), pages 915-929, 04.
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    Cited by:
    1. Pitesa, Marko & Thau, Stefan & Pillutla, Madan M., 2013. "Cognitive control and socially desirable behavior: The role of interpersonal impact," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 122(2), pages 232-243.

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