IDEAS home Printed from
   My bibliography  Save this article

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


  • Tepper, Bennett J.


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

    Download full text from publisher

    File URL:
    Download Restriction: Full text for ScienceDirect subscribers only

    As the access to this document is restricted, you may want to search for a different version of it.

    References listed on IDEAS

    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.
    Full references (including those not matched with items on IDEAS)


    Citations are extracted by the CitEc Project, subscribe to its RSS feed for this item.

    Cited by:

    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.


    All material on this site has been provided by the respective publishers and authors. You can help correct errors and omissions. When requesting a correction, please mention this item's handle: RePEc:eee:bushor:v:53:y::i:6:p:591-598. See general information about how to correct material in RePEc.

    For technical questions regarding this item, or to correct its authors, title, abstract, bibliographic or download information, contact: (Dana Niculescu). General contact details of provider: .

    If you have authored this item and are not yet registered with RePEc, we encourage you to do it here. This allows to link your profile to this item. It also allows you to accept potential citations to this item that we are uncertain about.

    If CitEc recognized a reference but did not link an item in RePEc to it, you can help with this form .

    If you know of missing items citing this one, you can help us creating those links by adding the relevant references in the same way as above, for each refering item. If you are a registered author of this item, you may also want to check the "citations" tab in your RePEc Author Service profile, as there may be some citations waiting for confirmation.

    Please note that corrections may take a couple of weeks to filter through the various RePEc services.

    IDEAS is a RePEc service hosted by the Research Division of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis . RePEc uses bibliographic data supplied by the respective publishers.