Drawing upon social identity theory, we explored the double-edged effects of collectivism on unethical behavior in the workplace. We hypothesized that, through the psychological mechanism of ingroup goal commitment, collectivism inhibits employees’ tendency to engage in unethical pro-self behavior, yet enhances their motivation to engage in unethical pro-ingroup behavior. We further predicted that these effects are moderated by the strength of a person’s moral identity, due to moral identity’s expansive circle of moral regard. Results of four studies involving Chinese and U.S. participants and both field and experimental data offer strong support for our hypotheses. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
Oliver Sheldon is an Associate Professor of Management and Global Business at Rutgers Business School, where he teaches courses on negotiation and organizational behavior. Broadly speaking, his research focuses on factors that shape pro-social behavior within teams and organizations. More specifically, his work seeks to better understand motivational and relational triggers of interpersonal competition and conflict within small groups, with the aim of shedding light on how organizations might improve coordination and collaboration among employees. Professor Sheldon’s work has been cited in major media outlets such as NPR, The Economist, Scientific American, and the Financial Times, among others. Oliver has published in a variety of management, social psychology and applied psychology outlets, including Organization Science, Journal of Applied Psychology, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, and Journal of Experimental Social Psychology.