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Whatever it Takes: Rivalry and Unethical Behavior

70 Pages Posted: 1 Jul 2012  

Gavin Kilduff

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business

Adam D. Galinsky

Columbia Business School - Management

Edoardo Gallo

University of Oxford - Nuffield College

J. James Reade

University of Reading, Department of Economics

Date Written: June 15, 2012

Abstract

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.

Suggested Citation

Kilduff, Gavin and Galinsky, Adam D. and Gallo, Edoardo and Reade, J. James, Whatever it Takes: Rivalry and Unethical Behavior (June 15, 2012). Intl. Association for Conflict Management, IACM 25th Annual Conference. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2084845 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2084845

Gavin Kilduff (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - Haas School of Business ( email )

545 Student Services Building, #1900
2220 Piedmont Avenue
Berkeley, CA 94720
United States

Adam Galinsky

Columbia Business School - Management ( email )

3022 Broadway
New York, NY 10027
United States

Edoardo Gallo

University of Oxford - Nuffield College ( email )

New Road
Oxford, OX1 1NF
United Kingdom

J. James Reade

University of Reading, Department of Economics ( email )

Whiteknights
Reading, Berkshire RG6 6AH
United Kingdom

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