Organizational moral identity centrality: relationships with citizenship behaviors and unethical prosocial behaviors

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Matherne, Curtis F.
Ring, J. Kirk
Farmer, Steven M.

Matherne, C.F., Ring, J.K. & Farmer, S. J Bus Psychol (2018) 33: 711


This article examines the influence of both individual and organizational moral identity centrality on prosocial behaviors. Furthermore, we hypothesize that the centrality of these two offer a substitute effect on these behavioral outcomes. Validated measures of organizational moral identity centrality and unethical prosocial behavior are introduced. Data were collected via two separate samples, University Greek Life organization members (n=499) and restaurant workers (n=137). Regression results supporting that individuals who claim centrality of moral identity and see their organizations to also embrace the centrality are more likely to engage in citizenship behaviors and less likely to commit unethical prosocial acts. Furthermore, results support that both forms of centrality of moral identity were substitutes in terms of affecting these two outcomes. Research that contributes to understanding how individuals within an organization consciously choose to act on behalf of the organization even when these very actions conflict with generally accepted morals of right and wrong within their society is valuable to academics and practitioners alike. This study contributes to this body of knowledge. Despite extensive attention to topics of ethics and identity, previous studies have largely overlooked the impact of an organizational moral identity. Our results provide a framework for understanding the role of moral identity and the prediction of organizational citizenship and unethical prosocial behaviors.

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