Intergenerational Transmission of Organizational Misconduct: Evidence from the Chicago Police Department

48 Pages Posted: 25 Oct 2021

See all articles by Justin Frake

Justin Frake

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Derek Harmon

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business; University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

Date Written: October 22, 2021

Abstract

This paper investigates how organizational misconduct is perpetuated through intergenerational transmission. We theorize that early exposure to misconduct imprints newcomers with the belief that misconduct is normal, which is then carried by these individuals into managerial positions and passed down to future generations of subordinates. We test this using longitudinal administrative data from the Chicago Police Department from 1980–2017. We exploit the random assignment of applicants to training cohorts to demonstrate that applicants exposed to higher levels of misconduct during their initial training not only engage in more misconduct over their careers (first generation effect), but also increase the misconduct of their subordinates after they become managers years or decades later (second generation effect). Mechanism tests suggest that this intergenerational transmission occurs through both incentive structures (i.e., annual reviews) and social influence (i.e., racial homophily). Taken together, these findings reveal how managers carry the normalization of misconduct from an organization’s past into its future, expanding our understanding of how misconduct in organizations is perpetuated and offering important policy implications for addressing the problem of police misconduct.

Keywords: misconduct, wrongdoing, police, imprinting

Suggested Citation

Frake, Justin and Harmon, Derek, Intergenerational Transmission of Organizational Misconduct: Evidence from the Chicago Police Department (October 22, 2021). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3948012 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3948012

Justin Frake (Contact Author)

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business ( email )

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States

Derek Harmon

University of Southern California - Marshall School of Business ( email )

701 Exposition Blvd
Los Angeles, CA California 90089
United States

University of Michigan, Stephen M. Ross School of Business

701 Tappan Street
Ann Arbor, MI MI 48109
United States

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