What Causes Unethical Behavior? A Meta-Analysis to Set an Agenda for Public Administration Research.
Belle, Nicola. Cantarelli, Paola.
Published: May-June 2017
Public Administration Review
Vol. 77, No. 3 , p. 327-339
American Society for Public Administration (ASPA)
1730 Rhode Island Ave. NW Suite 500
Washington, DC 20036
This article uses meta-analysis to synthesize 137 experiments in 73 articles on the causes of unethical behavior. Results show that exposure to in-group members who misbehave or to others who benefit from unethical actions, greed, egocentrism, self-justification, exposure to incremental dishonesty, loss aversion, challenging performance goals, or time pressure increase unethical behavior. In contrast, monitoring of employees, moral reminders, and individuals’ willingness to maintain a positive self-view decrease unethical conduct. Findings on the effect of self-control depletion on unethical behavior are mixed. Results also present subgroup analyses and several measures of study heterogeneity and likelihood of publication bias. The implications are of interest to both scholars and practitioners. The article concludes by discussing which of the factors analyzed should gain prominence in public administration research and uncovering several unexplored causes of unethical behavior. (Author abstract)
ethics; public agencies; risk factors; behavior problems; peer relationships; work environment; environmental influences; time factors; leadership; PROGRAM ADMINISTRATION; AGENCY OVERSIGHT; ADMINISTRATIVE POLICIES