Thick as Thieves
The Effects of Ethical Orientation and Psychological Safety on Unethical Behavior in Teams
The purpose of this study was to uncover compositional and emergent influences on unethical behavior by teams. Results from 126 teams indicated that presence of a formalistic orientation within the team was negatively related to collective unethical decisions. Conversely, the presence of a utilitarian orientation within the team was positively related to both unethical decisions and behaviors.
Results also indicated that the relationship between utilitarianism and unethical outcomes was moderated by the level of psychological safety within the team, such that teams with high levels of safety were more likely to engage in unethical behaviors. Implications are discussed, as well as potential directions for future research.
Aleksander Ellis is the Charles and Candice Nelson Fellow and Associate Professor of Management and Organizations at the Eller College of Management, University of Arizona. Matthew Pearsall is an assistant professor of management at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, University of Maryland.
Published in Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(2), 401-411.