The Influence of Distributive Justice on Lying for and Stealing from a Supervisor

Journal of Business Ethics 86 (4):507-518 (2009)
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In a controlled laboratory experiment, we found evidence for our predictions that participants who received fair distributive treatment were more likely to lie to give a supervisor a good performance evaluation than those treated unfairly, and those who received unfair distributive treatment were more likely to steal money from a supervisor than those treated fairly. We further proposed that the presence of an ethical code of conduct would moderate these relationships such that when the code was present these relationships would be weaker than when the code was absent, but we failed to find support for these moderating effects. Our findings suggest that the relationship between distributive justice and unethical behavior is likely more complex than previously considered. Both researchers and managers may benefit from a broader understanding of the factors that motivate and inhibit unethical behaviors intended to benefit and harm supervisors and/or organizations.



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