Thick as Thieves: The Effects of Ethical Orientation and Psychological Safety on Unethical Team Behavior

Matthew J. Pearsall, Aleksander P.J. Ellis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

71 Scopus citations

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to uncover compositional and emergent influences on unethical behavior by teams. Results from 126 teams indicated that the 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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)401-411
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Volume96
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 1 2011

Keywords

  • Decision making
  • Psychological safety
  • Teams
  • Unethical behavior

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology

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