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http://ssrn.com/abstract=1346397
 
 

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Social Comparisons and Deception Across Workplace Hierarchies: Field and Experimental Evidence


Benjamin G. Edelman


Harvard University - HBS Negotiations, Organizations and Markets Unit

Ian Larkin


Harvard Business School - Negotiation, Organizations and Markets Unit

August 22, 2013

Harvard Business School NOM Unit Working Paper No. 09-096

Abstract:     
We examine how unfavorable social comparisons differentially spur employees of varying hierarchical levels to engage in deception. Drawing on literatures in social psychology and workplace self-esteem, we theorize that negative comparisons with peers could cause either junior or senior employees to seek to improve reported relative performance measures via deception. In a first study, we use deceptive self-downloads on SSRN, the leading working paper repository in the social sciences, to show that employees higher in a hierarchy are more likely to engage in deception, particularly when the employee has enjoyed a high level of past success. In a second study, we confirm this finding in two scenario-based experiments. Our results suggest that longer-tenured and more successful employees face a greater loss of self-esteem from negative social comparisons, and are more likely engage in deception in response to reported performance that is lower than that of peers.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 32

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Date posted: February 19, 2009 ; Last revised: August 22, 2013

Suggested Citation

Edelman, Benjamin G. and Larkin, Ian, Social Comparisons and Deception Across Workplace Hierarchies: Field and Experimental Evidence (August 22, 2013). Harvard Business School NOM Unit Working Paper No. 09-096. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1346397 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.1346397

Contact Information

Benjamin G. Edelman (Contact Author)
Harvard University - HBS Negotiations, Organizations and Markets Unit ( email )
Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163
United States
HOME PAGE: http://people.hbs.edu/bedelman
Ian Larkin
Harvard Business School - Negotiation, Organizations and Markets Unit ( email )
Soldiers Field
Boston, MA 02163
United States
617-495-6884 (Phone)
617-495-5672 (Fax)
Feedback to SSRN


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