Whatever it Takes: Rivalry and Unethical Behavior
University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business
Adam D. Galinsky
Northwestern University - Kellogg School of Management
University of Oxford - Nuffield College
J. James Reade
University of Birmingham - Department of Economics
June 15, 2012
Intl. Association for Conflict Management, IACM 25th Annual Conference
We investigate rivalry as a driver of unethical behavior. We first distinguish it from general competition, both conceptually and in terms of its consequences for behavior. Then, across four experiments and one archival study, we find evidence that rivalry fuels greater unethical behavior than general competition. Specifically, rivalry was associated with increased Machiavellianism, over-reporting of performance, willingness to employ unethical negotiation tactics, and unsportsmanlike behavior. Further, several of these effects carried over to subsequent situations that occurred outside of the rivalrous relationship itself, suggesting that rivalry activates a mindset that can subsequently influence unrelated decisions and behaviors. These findings highlight the importance of rivalry as a widespread, powerful, and yet largely unstudied phenomenon with significant organizational implications. Further, they help to inform when and why unethical behavior occurs within organizations, and ultimately suggest that the nature of competition is dependent upon actors’ relationships and prior interactions.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 70working papers series
Date posted: July 1, 2012
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