New Horizons in Management series
Edited by Ronald J. Burke and Cary L. Cooper
Chapter 2: Individual and Organizational Antecedents of Misconduct in Organizations: What do we (believe that we) know, and on what bases do we (believe that we) know it?
Joel Lefkowitz To explain social behavior it is necessary to represent the structure of the total situation and the distribution of the forces in it. Kurt Lewin, 1939 Introduction Lewin wrote that passage long before he could have enjoyed the pleasures of path analysis, structural equation modeling or hierarchical linear models to implement his design. It is interesting that he failed to note – or perhaps thought it unnecessary to mention the obvious – the need to define the behavior in question before one can hope to explain it. As will be noted shortly, that is probably the most important problem by which one may characterize scholarship in the study of organizational misconduct – that is, agreeing on a definition of the focal construct(s) or dependent variable(s) to be explained. That, along with other meta-issues (both theoretical and methodological), is presented in the next section. The third section reviews and evaluates recent empirical findings. As will be apparent, the material presented in the chapter owes much to the prior scholarly work of others.1 To the extent that the discussion of meta-issues implies some criticisms of the empirical scholarship in this area, they should be kept in mind in drawing conclusions from the research reviewed in the third section. Meta-issues What is the focal construct? Fifteen years ago, a scholar attempting to set an agenda for the improvement of empirical research in business ethics felt compelled to repeat an even earlier admonition that ‘empirical research must state its assumptions about what constitutes...
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