This research tested the idea that the risk of exclusion from one's group motivates group members to engage in unethical behaviors that secure better outcomes for the group (pro-group unethical behaviors). We theorized that this effect occurs because those at risk of exclusion seek to improve their inclusionary status by engaging in unethical behaviors that benefit the group; we tested this assumption by examining how the effect of exclusion risk on pro-group unethical behavior varies as a function of group members' need for inclusion. A 2-wave field study conducted among a diverse sample of employees working in groups (Study 1) and a constructive replication using a laboratory experiment (Study 2) provided converging evidence for the theory. Study 1 found that perceived risk of exclusion from one's workgroup predicted employees' engagement in pro-group unethical behaviors, but only when employees have a high (not low) need for inclusion. In Study 2, compared to low risk of exclusion from a group, high risk of exclusion led to more pro-group (but not pro-self) unethical behaviors, but only for participants with a high (not low) need for inclusion. We discuss implications for theory and the management of unethical behaviors in organizations.
social exclusion, exclusion risk, pro-group unethical behavior, need for inclusion
Organizational Behavior and Theory
Organisational Behaviour and Human Resources
Journal of Applied Psychology
American Psychological Association
THAU, Stefan; DERFLER-ROZIN, Rellie; PITESA, Marko; and MITCHELL, Marie S..
Unethical for the sake of the group: Risk of social exclusion and pro-group unethical behavior. (2015). Journal of Applied Psychology. 100, (1), 98-113. Research Collection Lee Kong Chian School Of Business.
Available at: http://ink.library.smu.edu.sg/lkcsb_research/4950