Professor of Organisational Behaviour
; Corporate Governance; Value Creation, Strategy and Implementation;
This research tested the idea that the risk of exclusion from one’s group motivates group members to engage in unethical behaviors that secure better outcomes for the group (pro-group unethical behaviors).The authors theorized that this effect occurs because those at risk of exclusion seek to improve their inclusionary status by engaging in unethical behaviors that benefit the group; the authors tested this assumption by examining how the effect of exclusion risk on pro-group unethical behavior varies as a function of group members’ need for inclusion.A 2-wave field study conducted among a diverse sample of employees working in groups (Study 1) and a constructive replication using a laboratory experiment (Study 2) provided converging evidence for the theory. Study 1 found that perceived risk of exclusion from one’s workgroup predicted employees’ engagement in pro-group unethical behaviors, but only when employees have a high (not low) need for inclusion. In Study 2, compared to low risk of exclusion from a group, high risk of exclusion led to more pro-group (but not pro-self) unethical behaviors, but only for participants with a high (not low) need for inclusion.The authors discuss implications for theory and the management of unethical behaviors in organizations.