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Personal Motives, Moral Disengagement, and Unethical Decisions by Entrepreneurs: Cognitive Mechanisms on the “Slippery Slope”

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  • Robert Baron

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  • Hao Zhao

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  • Qing Miao

    ()

Abstract

Entrepreneurs sometimes make unethical decisions that have devastating effects on their companies, stakeholders, and themselves. We suggest that insights into the origins of such actions can be acquired through attention to personal motives and their impact on moral disengagement—a cognitive process that deactivates moral self-regulation, thus enabling individuals to behave in ways inconsistent with their own values. We hypothesize that entrepreneurs’ motivation for financial gains is positively related to moral disengagement, while their motivation for self-realization is negatively related to this process. Results obtained with a sample of founding entrepreneurs offered support for the first prediction, as well as support for the prediction that moral disengagement is positively related to the tendency to make unethical decisions. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Baron & Hao Zhao & Qing Miao, 2015. "Personal Motives, Moral Disengagement, and Unethical Decisions by Entrepreneurs: Cognitive Mechanisms on the “Slippery Slope”," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 128(1), pages 107-118, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jbuset:v:128:y:2015:i:1:p:107-118 DOI: 10.1007/s10551-014-2078-y
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Carter, Nancy M. & Gartner, William B. & Shaver, Kelly G. & Gatewood, Elizabeth J., 2003. "The career reasons of nascent entrepreneurs," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 18(1), pages 13-39, January.
    2. Georges Enderle, 2010. "Wealth Creation in China and Some Lessons for Development Ethics," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, pages 1-15.
    3. Gavin Cassar, 2007. "Money, money, money? A longitudinal investigation of entrepreneur career reasons, growth preferences and achieved growth," Entrepreneurship & Regional Development, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 19(1), pages 89-107, January.
    4. Jan Lepoutre & Aimé Heene, 2006. "Investigating the Impact of Firm Size on Small Business Social Responsibility: A Critical Review," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, pages 257-273.
    5. Jan Lepoutre & Aimé Heene, 2006. "Investigating the Impact of Firm Size on Small Business Social Responsibility: A Critical Review," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, pages 257-273.
    6. Celia Moore, 2008. "Moral Disengagement in Processes of Organizational Corruption," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, pages 129-139.
    7. Holt, David H., 1997. "A comparative study of values among Chinese and U.S. entrepreneurs: Pragmatic convergence between contrasting cultures," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 12(6), pages 483-505, November.
    8. Tang, Zhi & Tang, Jintong, 2012. "Stakeholder–firm power difference, stakeholders' CSR orientation, and SMEs' environmental performance in China," Journal of Business Venturing, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 436-455.
    9. Marvin Claybourn, 2011. "Relationships Between Moral Disengagement, Work Characteristics and Workplace Harassment," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, pages 283-301.
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    1. repec:kap:jbuset:v:142:y:2017:i:3:d:10.1007_s10551-015-2733-y is not listed on IDEAS
    2. Kevin Tasa & Chris M. Bell, 2017. "Effects of Implicit Negotiation Beliefs and Moral Disengagement on Negotiator Attitudes and Deceptive Behavior," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, pages 169-183.

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