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Causes of unethical behavior in a work place

September 15, 2019

In this article I discuss about the reasons or causes of unethical behavior in a work place. What is unethical behavior? It’s a behavior that differentiates the moral principles and good values which people believe to be present in their life. The opposites of fairness, honesty, dignity and individual rights are unethical behaviors. People want to work in a healthy, friendly working environment and with corporate, wiliness and respectful peoples. It is important to grow ethical behavior in every work place and avoid unethical behaviors. There are many reasons or causes that lead unethical behavior in a work place. To avoid unethical behavior in the organizations many are following rules and guidelines or prepared its own procedures. Even though guideline and rules are exist, with different cause and reasons, many unethical cases are occurring in the organizations.

In this article my topic “causes of unethical behavior in a work place”, I include a findings of related work from Bocconi University, Italy, (Nicola Belle , Paola Cantarelli, 2017) on a topic of “What Causes Unethical Behavior?” a meta-analysis to set an agenda for public administration. They used meta-analysis to synthesize 137 experiments in 73 articles on the causes of unethical behavior. Researchers said that the primary aim of their work are to help fill the gap by providing a comprehensive synthesis of the experimental literature in this area. Data collected from 137 experiments in 73 articles and identified 12 causes of unethical behavior.

Analyse Data in Relation to the Topic
The researcher investigated this topic on two main reasons. Those are investigating causal mechanisms that drive unethical behavior in and to motivate scholars in field to conduct future experimental research on the determinants of unethical behavior that will capitalize on what they know now, complement normative debates, and triangulate observational findings.

Below the table 1, gives the 12 main factors that cause unethical behaviors. That is one of the most important work related in the research.

This is only table that they included in the published article and they mentioned some other tables in the report but it has not shown in published one. 

In my view, weakness of this research is that they included only one table to show the result. Just seen one table only it is difficult to understand how deep the research has done the work. In the article they have detailed the process carried out and discussed the result, but the disappeared tables not hint any information. 


The “causes of unethical behavior in a work place” are not only what these researchers listed. In this research identified 12 causes of unethical behavior are social influences, greed, egocentrism, monitoring, moral reminders, self-justification, self-view, self-control depletion, slippery slope effect, loss aversion, goal setting, and time pressure. Additional causes, like a common infraction, misusing company time, mistreating others, lying, stealing or violating company internet policies, increasing unethical behavior in the workplace is widespread in many organizations.

These causes of unethical behavior are not specific in to one work place but it happening everywhere in the working environments. To decrease or avoid these causes of unethical behavior in work is not costly. It needs follow the rules, corporate each other, coordination from top to bottom employees and keep equal justice to all. 

Nicola Belle , Paola Cantarelli. (2017). What Causes Unethical Behavior? A Meta-Analysis to Set an Agenda for Public Administration Research. Public Administration Review, 13.
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