Bottom-line mentality from a goal-shielding perspective: Does bottom-line mentality explain the link between rewards and pro-self unethical behavior?

Mary B. Mawritz, Andrea C. Farro, Joongseo Kim, Rebecca L. Greenbaum, Cynthia S. Wang, Julena M. Bonner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations

Abstract

We extend research on goal-contingent rewards and bottom-line mentality (BLM) by drawing on goal-shielding theory to examine BLM as a goal-shielding process that explains the link between goal-contingent rewards and pro-self, unethical behavior. We also examine future orientation as a first- and second-stage moderator and suggest that the detrimental effects of goal-contingent rewards and subsequent BLMs are weakened for employees who have high future orientations. We tested our hypotheses with two field studies and found general support for our predictions. Overall, our findings suggest rewards that are contingent on goal attainment prompt organizational members to solely focus on their bottom-line outcomes, which in turn drives their pro-self, unethical behaviors, but these indirect effects are less likely for those who are high on future orientation, because they approach their work with a longer-term perspective. The theoretical and practical implications of this research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)505-532
Number of pages28
JournalHuman Relations
Volume77
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 2024

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation

Keywords

  • bottom-line mentality
  • future orientation
  • goal-contingent rewards
  • unethical behavior

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