Master of Science
Workplace identification has been investigated as a predictor of unethical pro-organizational behaviour (UPB), a form of unethical behaviour that primarily benefits the organization. While there have been fruitful findings for organizational identification, there is currently a lack of understanding for how other sources of identification influence this relationship. I sought to investigate whether occupational identification, defining oneself as a member of an occupation, would negatively moderate the relationship between organizational identification and UPB in an ethical decision-making study utilizing a sample of 193 accountants. Similarly, to past research, I hypothesized that moral disengagement would be a mediator in the model. Results indicated an unexpected negative non-significant relationship between organizational identification and UPB. Furthermore, occupation identification was negatively related to UPB, but not significant. I also unexpectedly found a significant negative mediating effect of moral disengagement. This research adds to the literature regarding whether identification relates to unethical behaviour.
Summary for Lay Audience
Research has found that individuals tend to define themselves based upon the social groupings they belong to, for example, one’s organization (e.g., “I am an IBMer”) or occupation (e.g., “I am an accountant”). Past research has found that when someone defines themselves on their organization, they will be more likely to commit unethical behavior to benefit the organization. I sought to investigate whether defining yourself on your occupation would negatively relate to engaging in unethical behaviour for the organization. In other words, whether defining yourself as a part of your occupation would encourage you to not commit unethical behaviour for the benefit of one of your social groupings. I also investigated whether the ability to suppress your moral thoughts would influence this relationship (i.e., ignore your moral compass). I tested these hypotheses in a sample of 193 accountants in a series of ethical decision-making scenarios. I unexpectedly found that individuals who highly defined themselves on their organization were less likely to commit unethical behaviour for the organization, but the effect was not significant. I did find that individuals who were highly identified with their occupation were less likely to commit unethical behaviour for the organization, however, the effect was not significant. I also found that your ability to suppress your moral thoughts influenced this relationship significantly. This research indicates that identification may serve as a precursor to committing unethical behaviour, but only if someone suppresses their moral thoughts.
Coppins, Trevor Thomas, "Not in my Occupation: An Examination of Occupational Identification and Unethical Pro-Organizational Behaviour" (2019). Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. 6524.