01:00 PM - 02:00 PM
20 October 2023

An Examination of Unethical Behavior Among Engineers

State of the Industry / Profession

Unethical organizational behavior can be extremely costly. While generating many of the same costs associated with unethical organizational behavior, unethical pro-organizational behavior poses a unique challenge. It suggests that there is a “dark side” to constructs thought to be productive, like organizational identification. Recent research suggests that individuals who identify highly with their organization are more likely to engage in unethical pro-organizational behavior and that moral disengagement mediates this relationship. Based on a sample of 281 professional engineers, this study attempts to validate these findings by testing a proposed theoretical model in which organizational identification is positively associated with unethical pro-organizational behavior and in which moral disengagement mediates this relationship. It also proposes two boundary conditions not yet examined in this context – professional identification and work engagement – and it further examines moral identity as a boundary condition. The study’s findings call into question previous findings that organizational identification by itself predicts unethical pro-organizational behavior. It validates previous findings of a significant relationship between moral identity and moral disengagement and a significant relationship between moral disengagement and unethical pro-organizational behavior. It also provides the first empirical evidence of a significant relationship between work engagement and moral disengagement. While pointing to variables that practitioners can manipulate to mitigate the risk of unethical pro-organizational behavior, the study highlights the complexity of predicting and responding to the dark side of organizational identification and suggests further research.