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Management professor presents paper at Southern Management Association conference

Research co-authored by Professor Matthew Valle investigates the relationship between individual perceptions of negative organizational environments on moral disengagement and subsequent outcomes.

Research authored by Matthew Valle, the Martha and Spencer Love Professor of Business and professor of management, Suzanne Zivnuska of California State University at Chico, and Silvia Clark of Texas State University, was presented at the 2016 annual conference of the Southern Management Association in Charlotte, North Carolina, Oct. 25-29.


Matthew Valle, the Martha and Spencer Love Professor of Business and professor of management
The Southern Management Association (SMA) is a domestic affiliate of the Academy of Management. Its primary mission is to advance the research, teaching, learning and practice of management. SMA membership consists of more than 1,100 management professors, doctoral students and executives representing more than 350 colleges, universities, and business firms in 48 states and several foreign countries.

The paper, "Negative environments, moral disengagement and outcomes," looked at the effects of individuals operating in environments characterized by abusive supervision and organizational politics. This research extends theory by developing a model which incorporates cognitive considerations and subsequent behavioral reactions to abusive supervision and perceptions of politics. More specifically, the authors incorporate a mediating variable, moral disengagement, as a cognitive linking mechanism between the experience of abusive supervision and organizational politics and outcomes.  

Integrating moral disengagement theory (MDT) as their linking mechanism provides a strong theoretical framework from which to base their investigation of the abusive supervision/perceptions of politics-outcomes relationships. Consistent with Bandura’s moral disengagement theory, their theoretical model places cognitions (about moral disengagement) at the center of the abusive supervision/perceptions of politics-outcomes relationship.  Given the generally negative relationship between abusive supervision/perceptions of politics and outcomes, the authors were interested in the degree to which these hindrance stressors affected individual cognitions about ethical behavior and the impact that such cognitions have in influencing subsequent behaviors such as organizational deviance and unethical pro-organizational behavior. 

This work stands to contribute to the existing literature in several ways. Although prior research has linked moral disengagement to some forms of unethical behavior, this study extends existing theory by investigating organizational deviance behaviors and unethical pro-organizational behaviors in light of a theoretically-driven potential mediation effect. Additionally, the model incorporates a cognitive linking mechanism preceding the incidence of unethical behavior, advancing findings in the job strain area. A more nuanced understanding of these relationships may enable researchers and organizational leaders to better identify intervention opportunities that may decrease the incidence of unethical behavior in the workplace. Finally, the rigorous, time-lagged approach to data collection and data analytic techniques strengthen the findings.    

ABSTRACT: Based on a theoretical framework that incorporates moral disengagement theory (Bandura, 1986, 1999) as a mediating mechanism, the purpose of this research was to investigate the relationship between individual perceptions of negative organizational environments on moral disengagement and subsequent outcomes. Specifically, we examined the indirect relationship of abusive supervision and perceptions of organizational politics on the outcomes organizational deviance behavior and unethical pro-organizational behavior through the influence of moral disengagement. We collected data in two separate surveys from 206 individuals working full time; the data collections were separated by six weeks. Results indicate that moral disengagement mediates the relationship between abusive supervision and deviant organizational behavior/unethical pro-organizational behavior. No mediating effect was observed for moral disengagement in the path from perceptions of politics to outcomes.  Implications for research and practice are offered.

Nicole Filippo,
10/31/2016 12:15 PM