Publication Type

Journal Article

Version

Postprint

Publication Date

5-2013

Abstract

This article provides an answer to the question of why agents make self-serving decisions under moral hazard and how their self-serving decisions can be kept in check through institutional arrangements. Our theoretical model predicts that the agents' power and the manner in which they are held accountable jointly determine their propensity to make self-serving decisions. We test our theory in the context of financial investment decisions made under moral hazard using others' funds. Across 3 studies, using different decision-making tasks, different manipulations of power and accountability, and different samples, we show that agents' power makes them more likely to behave in a self-serving manner under moral hazard, but only when the appropriate accountability mechanisms are not in place. Specifically, we distinguish between outcome and procedural accountability and show that holding agents accountable for their decision-making procedure reduces the level of self-serving decisions under moral hazard and also curbs the negative consequences of power. Implications for decisions under moral hazard, the psychology of power, and the accountability literature are discussed.

Keywords

moral hazard, accountability, power, investment decisions, unethical behavior

Discipline

Organizational Behavior and Theory

Research Areas

Organisational Behaviour and Human Resources

Publication

Journal of Applied Psychology

Volume

98

Issue

3

First Page

550

Last Page

558

ISSN

0021-9010

Identifier

10.1037/a0031697

Publisher

American Psychological Association

Copyright Owner and License

Authors

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

Additional URL

http://doi.org/10.1037/a0031697

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