Mitigating Gig and Remote Worker Misconduct: Evidence from a Real Effort Experiment
Forthcoming, Organization Science.
52 Pages Posted: 5 May 2021
Date Written: May 1, 2021
Employee misconduct is costly to organizations and has the potential to be even more common in gig and remote work contexts, where workers are physically distant from their employers. There is thus a need for scholars to better understand what employers can do to mitigate misconduct in these non-traditional work environments, particularly as the prevalence of such work environments is increasing. We combine an agency perspective with a behavioral relationship-based perspective to consider two avenues through which gig employers can potentially mitigate misconduct: 1) through the communication of organizational values and 2) through the credible threat of monitoring. We implement a real effort experiment in a gig work context that enables us to cleanly observe misconduct. Consistent with our theory, we present causal evidence that communication of organizational values, both externally-facing in the form of social/environmental responsibility and internally-facing in the form of an employee ethics code, decreases misconduct. This effect, however, is largely negated when workers are informed that they are being monitored. We provide suggestive evidence that this crowding-out is due to a decrease in perceived trust that results from the threat of monitoring. Our results have important theoretical implications for research on employee misconduct, and shed light on the tradeoffs associated with various potential policy solutions.
Keywords: unethical behavior, employee misconduct, employee cheating, employee governance, organizational values, corporate social responsibility, ethics code, monitoring
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