The Benefits And Burdens Of Work Moralization
Morality is espoused and encouraged across organizations, with decades of research documenting the benefits of moral considerations in deterring unethical behavior. Despite the importance of morality at work, organizational ethics research has suggested that individuals who moralize their work are likely to experience two drawbacks. First, research suggests that moralizing work will decrease creativity because employees become overburdened by moral considerations. Second, research suggests that individuals who moralize work are prone to engage in problematic social sanctioning behavior. In this dissertation, I draw on emerging research to challenge this dismal view of moralization. Specifically, I argue that, counter to current assumptions, work moralization can increase creativity and decrease social sanctioning behaviors. Instead of being a burden, this dissertation suggests that moralization is a nuanced process that can have beneficial or problematic outcomes depending on various contextual factors that are ingrained within organizations. In Chapter 1, I draw on the dual pathway theory of creativity to demonstrate that work moralization can decrease creativity through rumination, but also increase creativity through cognitive flexibility. In Chapter 2, I draw on theories of self-conscious emotions to demonstrate that work moralization can increase social sanctions through shame, but also decrease these same behaviors through pride. I test my theory in two organizational contexts – a federal organization and a sanitation plant – and also in two complementary, immersive online experiments. This dissertation challenges the prevailing consensus surrounding work moralization, painting a more nuanced and accurate picture of this phenomenon.