Ethics and Behavior 32 (2):110-123 (2022)

ABSTRACT Although unethical pro-organizational behavior in the workplace has been widely researched, studies have focused on its antecedents rather than its outcomes. To fill this gap in the literature, we integrated moral licensing theory and the literature on leader gratitude expression to explore the ethical consequences of UPB. Using a sample of multi-source time-lagged surveys of 206 leader–employee dyads, we found that the pro-organizational nature of UPB fostered employees’ psychological entitlement and thereby increased their likelihood of engaging in subsequent unethical behavior. Leaders’ expressions of gratitude for employee UPB strengthened the relationship between UPB and psychological entitlement, ultimately reinforcing employees’ unethical behavior. The theoretical and practical implications of the findings are discussed.
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DOI 10.1080/10508422.2021.1987909
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