L13 – Ethical Climates and Negative Workplace Behavior

The ethical climate of an organization is essential to Its success. However, we tend to sometimes overlook at what goes around us when things are going well financially, or when management is not doing their job correctly. We will be discussing the correlation between negative workplace behavior and the ethical climate of organizations.

There are various situational and organizational factors which influence the behavior and attitudes of employees. One that has been shown to have significant impact is the organizational climate (Peterson, 2002). The organizational climate is defined as “the subjective reactions of organizational members to the organization” (Penn State University, 20116).

The study of this climate allows us to look at what ethics are needed to keep a desirable environment for the organization. This leads us into working towards finding an overall better ethical work climate.  Ethical work climates which can be described as “the combination of organizational members’ perceptions regarding ethical events, practices, and procedures (Penn State University, 2016), having a good ethical climate would make sure that the organization climate overall remains positive. This is because an ethical climate has been demonstrated to influence the ethical behaviors of the employees. “It has been suggested that the ethical climate of an organization may be linked not only to the ethical behavior of employees but also a range of behaviors including counterproductive behaviors such as tardiness, absenteeism, and lax of performance” (Peterson, 2002).

Several of the behaviors which are considered unethical could also be deviant. The difference between the two is that ethics focuses on what is right or wrong when being judged by the law or societal guidelines, while “deviance is defined in terms of department from organizational norms” (Peterson, 2002). “Workplace deviance has been defined as a voluntary behavior that violates significant organizational norms and in so doing threatens the well-being of an organization, it’s members, or both” (Peterson, 2002). This behavior can be related to egoism which is defined as “doing what is best for oneself” (Penn State University, 2016). When people are thinking about what is best for them and disregarding the rules, workplace deviance arises.

If this is the case, we should be very careful when creating a work climate, and we should strive to create a good ethical climate. This would be beneficial to both leaders and followers in an organization. With a good working climate, as discussed, we can see that negative work behavior can be avoided.

References:

Penn State University (n.d.). Lesson 13: Organizational Climate. Retrieved from Penn State University Ethics and Leadership: https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1775390/pages/l13-organizational-climate-defined?module_item_id=20678828

Peterson, D. K. (2002). Deviant workplace behavior and the organization’s ethical climate. Journal of Business and Psychology, 17(1), 47-61. doi:10.1023/A:1016296116093

 

One Comment

  1. Randy Aaron Kunkleman April 23, 2016 at 10:59 AM #

    Michelle,

    I really enjoyed reading your blog post. It seemed to speak directly to some of the challenges that I initially faced when I began working for my current employer. We had a few people on my team that exhibited egoism behavior. They were more worried about meeting their own needs and not the needs of their organization or coworkers. As the new team leader it was up to me to address these behaviors as they were having a palpable negative impact to the team.

    I agree with you that with the right climate, unethical behavior can be minimized in the organization. I definitely had my work cut out for me. I worked with the employees as best as I could to correct their unethical behavior. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful in my attempt to align their behaviors with the expectations of the organization and those employees were terminated for their unethical behaviors. Since their termination the climate on the team has remained positive and we have gone from a team that historically struggled to make organizational goals to a team that is setting the standard.

    Thanks for the post!

    Respectfully,

    Randy

    References:
    Penn State University (n.d.). Lesson 13: Organizational Climate. Retrieved from Penn State University Ethics and Leadership: https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1775390/pages/l13-organizational-climate-defined?module_item_id=20678828

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