Costs of unethical manager behavior to firms are substan- tial and span not just direct financial, but also reputational costs (Kish-Gephart et al. 2014), highlighting a clear need to investigate ways to get managers to act as agents for the firm and mitigate such self-interested behavior.
To address this problem, behavioral ethics research has tended to focus on identifying the factors creating “bad/good apples” to the neglect of the “bad/good barrels” they operate within (see Jennings et al. 2015; Tenbrunsel and Smith-Crowe 2008; Treviño et al. 2014 for reviews). The current model responds to calls to go beyond investigating self-interest as the focused driver of individuals’ ethical decision-making (Kish-Gephart et al. 2014). The current research shows that self-interest is conditional, and that being in a “good barrel” (higher CSR firm) establishes a boundary condition such that the deleterious effects of temptation on ethical behavior are tempered. We thus respond to calls to better understand how contextual factors promote employee ethical behavior in the workplace (e.g., Kish-Gephart et al. 2010; Treviño and Youngblood 1990).
Specifically, while there has been a growing focus on the effects of meso-level constructs in organizations on individ- ual ethicality, such as leadership, and group processes and climate, there is a dearth of theory and research on macro- level factors, such as firm behavior as we investigate here. The current research supports that CSR activity may be one firm-level factor influencing desirable agency behavior. This new knowledge coupled with existing knowledge of how micro- and meso-level factors influence individual ethical decision-making can serve to promote a more multi-level approach to behavioral ethics theory-building and research, while simultaneously better integrating the separate canons of CSR and behavioral ethics research.
This study also contributes specifically to the body of CSR research. Prior CSR research has focused largely on its effects on outcomes at the organizational level (e.g., Bar- nett and Salomon 2012; Gregory et al. 2014; Harjoto and Jo 2015), causing scholars to call for more research to iden- tify how individuals think and behave based on their firm’s CSR (Aguinis and Glavas 2012). More specifically, scholars have highlighted the need for experiments concerning the individual effects of CSR to establish causal relationships (Morgeson et al. 2013; Rupp et al. 2013). Our study makes one attempt to address this need.
We assess through a causally interpretable design whether a firm’s CSR affects individual, and in particular, managers’ ethical decisions. This is particularly important because, as Gond et al. (2017) note, studies of reactions to CSR have focused primarily on employees, and little is known as to how CSR influences the decisions and actions of manag- ers and executives. To our knowledge, our study is the first
Bolstering Managers’ Resistance to Temptation via the Firm’s Commitment to Corporate Social…