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How does power corrupt ? : the way individual and institutional support of social hierarchies influences unethical behavior

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Item Summary

Title: How does power corrupt ? : the way individual and institutional support of social hierarchies influences unethical behavior
Authors: Rosenblatt, Valerie
Keywords: corruption
moral disengagement
self-regulation
social beliefs
social dominance orientation
show 1 moreunethical decision making
show less
Issue Date: Aug 2012
Publisher: [Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [August 2012]
Abstract: A universal aspect of human behavior is the tendency to establish and negotiate social hierarchies supporting power and status inequalities. Previous research linked the support of social hierarchies to unethical behavior at the individual and societal levels of analysis. However, factors and processes supporting these associations have not been well understood. In a series of three studies, this dissertation investigates factors and processes supporting the relationship between the individual and institutional support of social hierarchies and unethical behavior. The first study presents a conceptual multilevel process framework grounded in social dominance theory. The framework suggests that the individual support of social hierarchies (i.e., social dominance orientation) is associated with unethical behavior directly, supported by restricted perception and cognition, and mediationally by means of legitimizing rationalizations, ideologies, and logics. The institutional support of social hierarchies is linked to unethical behavior directly, since hierarchies sustain the decoupling of processes and fragmentation of responsibilities, and interactively through person-environment fit processes (e.g., socialization). The second study empirically demonstrates that the individual support of social hierarchies is indirectly related to unethical decision making by means of legitimizing rationalizations that help reduce accountability, responsibility, and self-sanctions. However, the positive relationships between the individual support of social hierarchies, propensity to use legitimizing rationalizations, and unethical decision making are attenuated among individuals with a greater ability to self-regulate. The third study presents and empirically investigates a culture-based model of the relationship between the support of social hierarchies and unethical decision making. The results of a cross-cultural study involving participants from Australia and the U.S. reveal that individual cultural orientations in the form of social beliefs (e.g., social cynicism) are related to the individual support of social hierarchies and the propensity to use morally disengaging rationalizations. The individual support of social hierarchies and propensity to use morally disengaging rationalizations, in turn, link the individual endorsement of social beliefs to the propensity to make unethical decisions. Societal differences in the support of social hierarchies only partially influence these relationships.
Description: Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2012.
Includes bibliographical references.
URI/DOI: http://hdl.handle.net/10125/101023
Appears in Collections:Ph.D. - International Management



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