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Envy at Work and in Organizations$
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Richard H. Smith, Ugo Merlone, and Michelle K. Duffy

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190228057

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190228057.001.0001

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Envy and Interpersonal Corruption

Envy and Interpersonal Corruption

Social Comparison Processes and Unethical Behavior in Organizations

(p.347) 15 Envy and Interpersonal Corruption
Envy at Work and in Organizations

Julia J. Lee

Francesca Gino

Oxford University Press

Previous research on unethical behavior in organizations suggests that employees who engage in such behavior are motivated by the desire to advance their own self-interest, often acting selfishly at the expense of their own organizations. However, such behaviors may also be motivated by envy resulting from upward social comparison processes. In this article, we provide a framework that shows how an experience of envy may motivate unethical behavior that is costly to co-workers in the same organization. We discuss the consequences of such interpersonal unethical behavior in organizational settings. We also examine the interaction of these emotional reactions to social comparisons with characteristics of an organization’s structure, related to performance goals and pay for performance pay and performance goals. Finally, we discuss the implications for future theory development.

Keywords:   Interpersonal unethical behavior, envy in the workplace, social comparisons, performance goals, pay for performance, group effectiveness, organizational reputation

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