Thursday, 31 May 2012

The Psychic Cost of Doing Wrong: Ethical Conflict, Divestiture Socialization, and Emotional Exhaustion

an article by John D. Kammeyer-Mueller and Lauren S. Simon (University of Florida) and Bruce L. Rich (California State University, San Marcos) published in Journal of Management Volume 30 Number 3 (May 2012)


Many employees feel ethically conflicted at work, but research has yet to identify the specific mechanisms that give rise to this sense of ethical conflict.

The authors propose that ethical conflicts occur when companies encourage employees to behave counter to their own sense of right and wrong during the process of organizational socialization. Employees who are subject to these pressures experience psychological distress.

The authors’ study of 371 early career lawyers found that divestiture socialization was positively related to ethical conflict and that ethical conflict was related to higher emotional exhaustion and lower career fulfilment. Ethical conflict partially mediated the relationship between divestiture socialization and emotional exhaustion.

Narrative comments provided by respondents reinforced the relationship between divestiture socialization and ethical conflict.

Hazel’s comment:
I wasn't sure about the phrase “divestiture socialization” and found this article by Van Maanen, J. and E. H. Schein from 1979 helpful. I hope you do to (or maybe you didn’t need it!)

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