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Hierarchies, Power Inequalities, and Organizational Corruption

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  • Valerie Rosenblatt

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Abstract

This article uses social dominance theory (SDT) to explore the dynamic and systemic nature of the initiation and maintenance of organizational corruption. Rooted in the definition of organizational corruption as misuse of power or position for personal or organizational gain, this work suggests that organizational corruption is driven by the individual and institutional tendency to structure societies as group-based social hierarchies. SDT describes a series of factors and processes across multiple levels of analysis that systemically contribute to the initiation and maintenance of social hierarchies and associated power inequalities, favoritism, and discrimination. I posit that the same factors and processes also contribute to individuals’ lower awareness of the misuse of power and position within the social hierarchies, leading to the initiation and maintenance of organizational corruption. Specifically, individuals high in social dominance orientation, believing that they belong to superior groups, are likely to be less aware of corruption because of their feeling of entitlement to greater power and their desire to maintain dominance even if that requires exploiting others. Members of subordinate groups are also likely to have lower awareness of corruption if they show more favoritism toward dominant group members to enhance their sense of worth and preserve social order. Institutions contribute to lower awareness of corruption by developing and enforcing structures, norms, and practices that promote informational ambiguity and maximize focus on dominance and promotion. Dynamic coordination among individuals and institutions is ensured through the processes of person-environment fit and legitimizing beliefs, ideologies, or rationalizations. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Suggested Citation

  • Valerie Rosenblatt, 2012. "Hierarchies, Power Inequalities, and Organizational Corruption," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 111(2), pages 237-251, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jbuset:v:111:y:2012:i:2:p:237-251
    DOI: 10.1007/s10551-012-1204-y
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    File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s10551-012-1204-y
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    Cited by:

    1. Xuyun Tan & Li Liu & Zhenwei Huang & Xian Zhao & Wenwen Zheng, 2016. "The Dampening Effect of Social Dominance Orientation on Awareness of Corruption: Moral Outrage as a Mediator," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 125(1), pages 89-102, January.
    2. Chad Albrecht & Daniel Holland & Ricardo Malagueño & Simon Dolan & Shay Tzafrir, 2015. "The Role of Power in Financial Statement Fraud Schemes," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 131(4), pages 803-813, November.
    3. repec:kap:jbuset:v:146:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10551-015-2925-5 is not listed on IDEAS
    4. Xuyun Tan & Li Liu & Zhenwei Huang & Xian Zhao & Wenwen Zheng, 2016. "The Dampening Effect of Social Dominance Orientation on Awareness of Corruption: Moral Outrage as a Mediator," Social Indicators Research: An International and Interdisciplinary Journal for Quality-of-Life Measurement, Springer, vol. 125(1), pages 89-102, January.
    5. Tobias Karmann & René Mauer & Tessa C. Flatten & Malte Brettel, 2016. "Entrepreneurial Orientation and Corruption," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 133(2), pages 223-234, January.

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