Safety-Related Moral Disengagement in Response to Job Insecurity: Counterintuitive Effects of Perceived Organizational and Supervisor Support

Journal of Business Ethics 162 (2):343-358 (2020)
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The purpose of this study was to examine individual and organizational antecedents and consequences of safety-related moral disengagement. Using Conservation of Resources theory, social exchange theory, and psychological contract breach as a theoretical foundation, this study tested the proposition that higher job insecurity is associated with greater levels of subsequent safety-related moral disengagement, which in turn is related to reduced safety performance. Moreover, we examined whether perceived organizational and supervisor support buffered or intensified the impact of job insecurity on moral disengagement. Using a two-wave lagged design, anonymous survey data collected from N = 389 working adults in the U.S. supported the hypothesized moderated mediation model. Specifically, the conditional indirect effects of job insecurity on safety performance via moral disengagement were intensified as levels of perceived organizational and supervisor support increased. These results suggest that the threat of job insecurity may prompt employee moral disengagement; this effect is even stronger among employees who perceived higher levels of organizational and supervisor support. We interpret these counterintuitive findings in light of increasingly insecure contemporary work arrangements and how these may give rise to potentially unethical safety-related decision making and behavior.



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