Investigating when and why psychological entitlement predicts unethical pro-organizational behavior


In this research, we examine the relationship between employee psychological entitlement (PE) and employee willingness to engage in unethical pro-organizational behavior (UPB). We hypothesize that a high level of PE–the belief that one should receive desirable treatment irrespective of whether it is deserved–will increase the prevalence of this particular type of unethical behavior. We argue that, driven by self-interest and the desire to look good in the eyes of others, highly entitled employees may be more willing to engage in UPB when their personal goals are aligned with those of their organizations. Support for this proposition was found in Study 1, which demonstrates that organizational identification accentuates the link between PE and the willingness to engage in UPB. Study 2 builds on these findings by examining a number of mediating variables that shed light on why PE leads to a greater willingness among employees to engage in UPB. Furthermore, we explored the differential effects of PE on UPB compared to counterproductive work behavior (CWB). We found support for our moderated mediation model, which shows that status striving and moral disengagement fully mediate the link between PE and UPB. PE was also linked to CWB, and was fully mediated by perceptions of organizational justice and moral disengagement.

Publication DOI:
Divisions: College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School
College of Business and Social Sciences > Aston Business School > Work & Organisational Psychology
Additional Information: The final publication is available at Springer via
Uncontrolled Keywords: counterproductive work behavior,moral disengagement,organizational identification,organizational justice,psychological entitlement,status striving,unethical pro-organizational behavior,Business and International Management,Business, Management and Accounting(all),Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous),Economics and Econometrics,Law
Publication ISSN: 1573-0697
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Related URLs: http://www.scop ... tnerID=8YFLogxK (Scopus URL)
https://link.sp ... 0551-017-3456-z (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2019-01-15
Published Online Date: 2017-02-20
Accepted Date: 2017-01-31
Submitted Date: 2015-05-11
Authors: Lee, Allan
Schwarz, Gary
Newman, Alexander
Legood, Alison (ORCID Profile 0000-0001-5292-0405)



Version: Accepted Version

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