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When managers pressure employees to behave badly: Toward a comprehensive response

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  • Tepper, Bennett J.

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

  • Tepper, Bennett J., 2010. "When managers pressure employees to behave badly: Toward a comprehensive response," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 53(6), pages 591-598, November.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:bushor:v:53:y::i:6:p:591-598
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. 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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    1. repec:kap:jbuset:v:146:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10551-015-2919-3 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Williams, Sandra L., 2011. "Engaging values in international business practice," Business Horizons, Elsevier, vol. 54(4), pages 315-324, July.

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