Will Creative Employees Always Make Trouble? Investigating the Roles of Moral Identity and Moral Disengagement

Published on Jul 1, 2019in Journal of Business Ethics
· DOI :10.1007/S10551-017-3683-3
Xiaoming Zheng10
Estimated H-index: 10
(THU: Tsinghua University),
Xin Qin8
Estimated H-index: 8
(SYSU: Sun Yat-sen University)
+ 1 AuthorsHui Liao1
Estimated H-index: 1
(UMD: University of Maryland, College Park)
Recent research has uncovered the dark side of creativity by finding that creative individuals are more likely to engage in unethical behavior. However, we argue that not all creative individuals make trouble. Using moral self-regulation theory as our overarching theoretical framework, we examine individuals’ moral identity as a boundary condition and moral disengagement as a mediating mechanism to explain when and how individual creativity is associated with workplace deviant behavior. We conducted two field studies using multi-source data to test our hypotheses. In Study 1, the results indicated that creativity positively predicted moral disengagement for those low in moral identity. In Study 2 with multi-wave data, we replicated the finding that moral identity moderated the effect of creativity on moral disengagement in Study 1 and further revealed that moral disengagement mediated the interactive effects of creativity and moral identity on workplace deviant behavior. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings and directions for future research are discussed.
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