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2019 International Association for Conflict Management Conference

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Helping the Organization but Harming Yourself: How and When Unethical Pro-Organizational Behavior Increases Work-To-Family Conflict

Whereas prior research has focused on the antecedents of unethical pro- organizational behavior (UPB)—unethical behavior intended to benefit the organization—the current research is among the first to investigate the consequences of UPB. Building on affective events theory, we develop and test a theoretical model of how engaging in UPB at work increases employees’ work-to-family conflict. Spotlighting the morally conflicting nature of UPB (unethical yet pro-organizational), we propose that engaging in UPB increases anxiety, especially for employees higher in moral attentiveness; in turn, this anxiety induced by UPB increases work-to-family conflict. A two-week experience sampling study of hairstylists supported our theoretical model: UPB had a significant indirect effect on work-to-family conflict via anxiety, and this effect was stronger for hairstylists higher in moral attentiveness. In sum, unethical behavior intended to benefit the organization may unintentionally harm the employee himself/herself.

Xin Liu
Peking University

Jackson Lu
MIT Sloan School of Management
United States

Hongyu Zhang
Central University of Finance and Economics

Yahua Cai
Shanghai University of Finance and Economics


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