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Unethical behavior in organizations inclass experiment - Employee versus Manager

From “A Group Exercise to Explore Employee Ethics in Business-Related Psychology Courses” (Carkenord, Teaching of Psychology, 1996)

Essentially, two groups, one asked as the president of a company, the other as an employee. Need to rate unethical behaviors.

From the PSE2011 Ebook-vol2:

This article describes an activity used to teach about ethical behavior in the business environment. For the activity, the author used a series of employee behaviors that people might consider unethical, including taking office supplies home, using an office copy machine to make personal copies, and charging inappropriate items on the company credit card. During the activity, students read instructions that indicated they should take the perspective of either a company president or an employee and rate the acceptability of the behaviors. In groups in which students received the same instructions, students calculated the mean scores for each of the ethical scenarios. The groups then compared the mean ethical score for each scenario. The differences between how ethically the two groups viewed the behavior highlighted how different perspectives affect the evaluation of an ethical dilemma. Students reported that the activity was highly interesting and a good use of class time and that future classes should incorporate the activity.

Questions addressed:

  1. In unethicality universal for all?
  2. Differences in morality perception between managers and employees

It would be O.K. for an employee to

  1. Take homc a fcw office supplies (paperclips, pencils, etc.).
  2. Call In sick when personal time is needed.
  3. Use the company phone for personal long-distance calls.
  4. Make a personal copy on the copy machine.
  5. Use a company car to make a personal trip.

On a business trip, it would be O.K. for an employee to…

  1. Eat at the very best restaurant at the company's expense.
  2. Charge wine and cocktails as well as food on the company account.
  3. Take a spouse along at company expense.
  4. Stay in the most expensive hotel at the company's expense.
  5. Charge a $5 cab ride to the company when you actually walked.

Ratings ranged from 1 (strongly agree that behavior is acceptable) to 7 (strongly disagree that behavior is accephble).

Emp = employee perspective; Pres = president perspective.

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