The Cost of Unethical Behavior

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To join in celebrating Corporate Compliance and Ethics Week, we bring you an article from the Journal of Management that examines the link between unethical behavior and emotional exhaustion, a topic we covered last week:

Many employees feel ethically conflicted at work, but research has yet to identify the specific mechanisms that give rise to this sense of ethical conflict. The authors propose that ethical conflicts occur when companies encourage employees to behave counter to their own sense of right and wrong during the process of organizational socialization. Employees who are subject to these pressures experience psychological distress. The JOM_v38_72ppiRGB_150pixWauthors’ study of 371 early career lawyers found that divestiture socialization was positively related to ethical conflict and that ethical conflict was related to higher emotional exhaustion and lower career fulfillment. Ethical conflict partially mediated the relationship between divestiture socialization and emotional exhaustion. Narrative comments provided by respondents reinforced the relationship between divestiture socialization and ethical conflict.

Read “The Psychic Cost of Doing Wrong: Ethical Conflict, Divestiture Socialization, and Emotional Exhaustion,” published by John D. Kammeyer-Mueller and Lauren S. Simon, both of the University of Florida, and Bruce L. Rich of California State University, San Marcos in the Journal of Management May 2012 issue.

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