When managers pressure employees to behave badly: Toward a comprehensive response
Over the last 10 to 15 years, a disturbing number of well-publicized cases of unethical worker behavior have made national headlines. These events have been associated with tragic consequences: countless people have lost their jobs and the associated health insurance and retirement benefits on which they depended; investors have lost their nest eggs; and the trust in the corporate world that is so critical to a thriving economy has been sullied. Pundits have offered simple explanations for these events (e.g., greed) and equally simple solutions (e.g., punish the wrong-doers). In this article, I draw attention to a trigger of unethical work behavior that has received less attention than is warranted: pressure to behave unethically (PBU) perpetrated by organizational authorities. Many instances in which employees violate ethical standards reflect acquiescence to managerial pressure. Herein, I introduce a comprehensive approach to reduce the frequency with which managers execute acts of PBU. My approach draws on a recent influence framework to target managers' motivation to perform PBU, and ability to achieve personal and organizational goals without resorting to PBU.
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- Brown, Michael E. & Trevino, Linda K. & Harrison, David A., 2005. "Ethical leadership: A social learning perspective for construct development and testing," Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Elsevier, vol. 97(2), pages 117-134, July.
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