A Newcomer Socialization Perspective on the Proliferation of Unethical Conduct in Organizations: The Influences of Peer Coaching Practices and Newcomers’ Goal Orientations

Xiangmin Liu, Rebecca L. Greenbaum, David Allen, Zhengtang Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Drawing on conservation of resources theory, we contribute to the behavioral ethics literature by examining how and why organizational socialization processes can affect newcomers’ adoption of unethical behaviors. Specifically, we contend that quality peer coaching (i.e., providing newcomers with job-related guidance and social support) provides newcomers with enhanced self-resources that diminishes emotional exhaustion and thus indirectly reduces newcomer unethical conduct. Conversely, peer coach unethical conduct (i.e., violating ethical norms) increases newcomers’ emotional exhaustion, and thus indirectly increases newcomers’ own unethical acts. Our research also identifies newcomers’ goal orientations as important individual differences that moderate the proposed mediation effects. Newcomers with high mastery orientations respond to high emotional exhaustion by harnessing more resources and identifying new work strategies, thereby engaging in less unethical conduct. Conversely, newcomers with high performance orientations give into emotional exhaustion and engage in unethical conduct as a way of outperforming others while conserving resources. We tested our theoretical model using a sample of peer coaches and newcomers from the Real Estate industry, using objective reporting of peer coaches’ and newcomers’ unethical conduct over a nine-month period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)73-88
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Volume176
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • General Business, Management and Accounting
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Law

Keywords

  • Coaching
  • Goal orientation
  • Newcomer socialization

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