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Research Proposal: Measuring the Effects of Ethical Misfit in Organizations Katherine A. Lasco Ohio University, Honors Tutorial College Abstract: The degree that an employee’s ethical values fit with the ethical culture of their organization could have significant implications on management trends. We hypothesize a relationship between ethical misfit and levels of job satisfaction, job performance, and turnover intentions that is moderated by self-efficacy and autonomy. To assess this, we propose a sequential mixed-methods survey approach and consequent steps for data analysis. Introduction Maintaining a culture of high ethics in an organization isn’t just important on a moral basis; it can actually improve performance. For instance, it has been found that ethical companies create a relationship of loyalty with their customers and investors, which generates greater profits over the long term. Similarly, employees in an ethical company are less likely to use resources for personal purposes or engage in shady business practices (Dogra, 2010). While it has been proven that ethics have a positive effect on organizations, what would happen if an employee had a personal ethical code that was misaligned with that of their company’s? We are interested in measuring the degree that an employee’s ethics conflict with the ethical culture of their organization, or what we call individual ethics – organizational cultural ethics misfit. We suspect that the presence of misfit could result in changes in an individual’s levels of job satisfaction, job performance, and turnover intentions. Furthermore, we believe the levels of generalized self-efficacy and autonomy that an employee has may affect this relationship by moderating its strength. In this paper, we will present a research design proposal for measuring misfit in organizations and testing its relationship with

the above variables. First, we will provide a brief review of the existing literature relating to ethical misfit, discussing the theory of jobpersonality fit as a conceptual basis. Next, we will give a more in-depth definition of our ethical misfit construct, as well as job satisfaction, job performance, turnover intentions, self-efficacy, and autonomy. We’ll present our hypotheses and describe why we think there may be relationships. Lastly, we will propose a design for carrying out the research in a way that will be cost-effective and produce accurate results. Because we are measuring misfit in organizations, it seems logical that the survey and experiment should be conducted with samples of employees from different companies. As a result, this design will require at least thirty participants from each of six companies within the same industry. Literature Review A collection of theories already exist in the organizational literature about the outcomes of personality-job fit (O’Reilly, 1977), personorganization fit (Westerman & Cyr, 2004), and person-environment fit (Ahman & Veerapandian, 2012). In his study, O’Reilly states that “recent evidence has demonstrated that affective responses to work may be more directly related


to structural characteristics of jobs or organization than to individual differences”, meaning that an individual’s attitude toward their work is affected by the degree that their personality is in congruence with their job. His results show that employees with high personality-job fit have stronger levels of job satisfaction, job performance and organizational commitment. In 2004, Westerman and Cyr looked at three facets of person-organization fit: values congruence, personality congruence, and work environment congruence. They found that strong measures of each were correlated with desire to remain with the employer, and that values congruence and work environment congruence (but not personality congruence) were related to job satisfaction and organizational commitment. While this research examines the effects of fit as an independent variable, the 2012 study by Ahman and Veerapandian questioned how person-environment fit could mediate the relationship between organizational culture and job satisfaction. Their results show that the degree an employee fits with the environment of the organization does have significant mediating effects. Though existing theories have assessed fit between an individual and an organization in a broad sense, little research has been done specifically on how a person’s ethics align with those of the company. Therefore, we define individual ethics – organizational cultural ethics misfit as the degree that an individual’s ethics are misaligned with the organization’s established cultural ethics. To measure this, we first will examine effects of this misfit on three different outcomes. We expect that there is a simple, causal relationship between ethical misfit and job satisfaction, job performance, and turnover intentions (Figure 1). Job satisfaction has been defined by many as the degree that an individual is satisfied with all facets of their job (Amburgey,

2005). Job performance will be considered as a measure of how well an employee is performing in all roles of their job (Welbourne et al., 1997). Lastly, we define turnover intentions as the desire of a person to leave their job (Randhawa, 2007). If an employee has misfit then they are likely to have decreased job satisfaction. For example, an individual is likely to be unhappy if forced to participate in a business practice or decision that is against their own beliefs. Over time, this likely will lead to lower levels of satisfaction because the individual does not feel completely comfortable with the company and their role in it. Similarly, we propose that individualcompany ethical misfit will result in decreased levels of performance. When an employee doesn’t agree with the business they are contributing to, they may put less effort into a task than would an individual who is passionate about their company. Following this, we also hypothesize that ethical misfit will lead to higher turnover intentions in employees, because an individual that feels uncomfortable with their company’s practices may have a greater desire to leave. These relationships are condensed as such: 1. As misfit increases, job satisfaction will decrease. 2. As misfit increases, job performance will decrease. 3. As misfit increases, turnover intentions will increase. However, we suspect that some variables may have moderating effects on these relationships. Self-efficacy has been universally defined as an individual’s general belief in their ability to effectively complete tasks and projects in the workplace (Chen et. al., 2001). We hypothesize that if an individual has high levels of generalized self-efficacy, the negative results of misfit are likely to be lessened. For example, an individual might feel uncomfortable with the


Figure 1: Hypothesized Relationship

ethical practices of a company, but have a high belief that they will still be able to complete the tasks assigned. Similarly, if an employee feels inclined to turn over, self-efficacy may reduce that desire because the individual still feels as though they have the ability to do their job. In this way, we hypothesize that the presence of self-efficacy will lessen the relationship between ethical misfit and job satisfaction, job performance, and turnover intentions: 4. Self-efficacy will mitigate the relationship between misfit and job satisfaction such that individuals with high self-efficacy will experience less change in job satisfaction as a result of misfit than individuals with low self-efficacy. 5. Self-efficacy will mitigate the relationship between misfit and job performance such that individuals with high self-efficacy will experience less change in job performance as a result of misfit than individuals with low self-efficacy. 6. Self-efficacy will mitigate the relationship between misfit and turnover intentions such that individuals with high self-efficacy will experience less change in turnover intentions as a result of misfit than individuals with low self-efficacy. Lastly, the presence of high autonomy is also expected to lessen the relationship between ethical misfit and these outcomes. Autonomy has been defined as the degree that an individual believes they have decision-making power about

how they utilize their time and resources (Spector & Fox, 2003). Even if an individual does not fit into the culture of an organization, their overall job satisfaction is likely to be greater if they have high autonomy in addition to misfit. Conversely, if an employee has misfit with an organization but very low levels of decisional latitude, they are likely to be less satisfied. The same applies to job performance: an individual with low misfit but high autonomy is expected to have higher performance because they will not feel as constrained by the cultural boundaries of the organization, leading to greater effort in work. In this way, we hypothesize that high autonomy will also lessen the relationship between ethical misfit and job satisfaction, job performance, and turnover intentions: 1. Autonomy will mitigate the relationship between misfit and job satisfaction such that individuals with high autonomy will experience less change in job satisfaction as a result of misfit than individuals with low autonomy. 2. Autonomy will mitigate the relationship between misfit and job performance such that individuals with high autonomy will experience less change in job performance as a result of misfit than individuals with low autonomy. 3. Autonomy will mitigate the relationship between misfit and turnover intentions such that individuals with high autonomy will experience less change in job performance as a result of misfit than individuals with low autonomy.


Figure 2: Sequential Mixed-Methods Research Design

Methods In order to effectively test these relationships, we have constructed a sequential mixedmethods research design (Figure 2). In Step 1, we will administer an ethics survey to the executives and managers of the company, as well as complete a qualitative ethical culture assessment. The purpose of this is to gather information to use in creation of the ethical survey and dilemmas for the next method. Because the ethical culture of an organization is created by those who given instructions and make large-scale decisions, the results of the survey should reflect the ethical context in which the organization is run. In addition, proposed

steps for the qualitative assessment include examining the company’s mission and value statement, gathering statements from executives, analyzing previous media reports about the organization’s business procedures, and making general observations within the workplace. After the preliminary data is collected, we will proceed to Step 2, during which we will conduct a survey experiment of a sample of employees at each organization. In Step 2a, all the participants will be given a comprehensive pre-survey that will assess their individual beliefs about their organizational ethical fit, and collect baseline data on their self-efficacy, autonomy, job satisfaction, perceived job performance, and turnover intentions. The


ethical portion of this survey will be developed for each organization from the executive ethics assessment. For Step 2b, the participants will be randomly assigned to one of three groups: those receiving a simple, moderate, or difficult ethical dilemma. These will be written hypothetical situations that put the individual in a situation within the context of their organization. The ethical dilemmas will be specific to each organization studied, and be created based off of the executive ethics survey and qualitative data collected in the first method. For example, if a particular organization is found to have a culture that values honesty, we could draft the following scenarios: response when asked to lie to a coworker, lie to a client, or lie to an auditor. Lastly, the participants will be given a postsurvey in Step 2c that asks specific questions about how they would react to and perceive the ethical situation. Questions will be based off of the same scale items for job satisfaction, job performance, and turnover intentions as the first scale, so that the results can be compared to those of the pre-survey. Sample Because our research aims to measure misfit of individuals in organizations, it follows that samples of participants should be drawn from existing companies. We propose that at least thirty participants from six or more large organizations in the same industry be examined in order to obtain accurate data. These participants should represent a cross-section of the organizational population, coming from all divisions, pay levels (except for executive), diversity types, and organizational tenure, and the experiment should take place at each organization. The advantage of this sampling procedure is that by taking a representative portion of the organization, the results become generalizable to the entire organization. However, because we are conducting a survey within specific

organizations within a specific industry in the United States, the results are less generalizable to all organizations of all cultures. Trends in relationships could vary depending on the industry and country. Measures The pre-survey and post-survey will both be designed using standardized scales of the variables measured. Job satisfaction will be assessed using the Job Satisfaction Survey conducted by Spector in 1994. This scale has 36 items measured on a 6-point scale, and has an alpha value of 0.91. We will measure job performance with the Role-Based Performance Scale, designed by Welbourne, Johnson, and Erez. In this, 20 items in 5 sub-scales are measured on a 5-point scale, with an alpha value ranging from 0.86 to 0.96. Turnover Intentions will be measured with the Turnover Intentions Scale first conducted by Shore and Martin in 1989. There are 8 items measured on a 5-point scale, and the alpha value is 0.92. Next, we will assess selfefficacy on the New General Self-Efficacy Scale designed in 2001 by Chen, Gully, and Eden. This scale has measures 8 items on a 5-point scale, and has an alpha value of 0.867. Lastly, autonomy will be assessed using the Factual Autonomy Scale, conducted by Spector and Fox in 2003. In this, 10 items are assessed using the response choices for 1-7: Never, Rarely, Sometimes, Quite Often, Extremely Often, or Always; for items 8-10: Never, Once or Twice, Once or Twice a month, Once or Twice per week, or Every Day. For a complete list of items, please refer to Appendix A. Since individual ethics – organizational cultural ethics misfit is a construct that has not been measured before, it is necessary for us to develop a new scale that accurately gauges the level that individuals perceive their ethics to be misaligned with those of their organization’s. We will do this by identifying three ethical themes (Figure 3) for each of the executive levels of the


organizations studied. From there, we will develop customized scale items for each organization studied. For example, if Organization A is found to have a high value of honesty, we might ask a question like: On a scale from 1 to 7, how important is honesty to you at work? With this approach, we will be able to measure the ethical fit of each employee with their organization.

Figure 3: Assessment of Organizational Culture

Analysis Once survey data is collected from participants, we will analyze relationships between variables using structural equation modeling. This method is appropriate because it can perform a multilevel regression analysis on multiple independent and dependent variables. The first three research hypotheses about the relationship between ethical misfit and job satisfaction, job performance, and turnover intentions can be tested simply through data from the pre-survey. By controlling for other variables, we can examine each of the three relationships without taking moderating variables into account. The remaining six hypotheses can be tested by analyzing the change in results per individual of each variable between the presurvey and the post-survey. For example, if an individual scoring high on self-efficacy in the pre-survey experiences less change in job satisfaction in the post survey than does an individual who initially scored low in selfefficacy, our hypothesis is correct. Also taken into account will be the degree of ethical misfit

calculated from the employee survey. So, the change in results of an individual with high misfit and high self-efficacy can be compared to an individual with low misfit and high selfefficacy. The purpose of having three categories of ethical dilemmas is to create depth in the results, and to examine whether there is any difference in variable change when scenarios are ethically simple or more difficult. Comparison between individual results will occur only within each of the three groups. Conclusion When conducted, the results of this experiment could have significant implications on the hiring of new employees and the assessment of existing ones. If it is concluded that ethical misfit has a large effect on the job satisfaction, job performance, and turnover intentions of employees, then managers and human resource personnel may need to pay increased attention to how the ethics of an employee align with those of the organization. References Ahmad, K., & a/n Veeranandian, K. (2012). The Mediating Effect of Person-Environment Fit on the Relationship between Organisational Culture and Job Satisfaction. International Journal of Pyschological Studies, 4(1), 91-102. doi: 10.5539/ijps.v4n1p91 Amburgey, D. (2005). An analysis of the relationship between job satisfaction, organizational culture, and perceived leadership characteristics. (Doctoral dissertation, University of Central Florida)Retrieved from http://etd.fcla.edu/CF/CFE0000610/Amburg ey_William_OD_200508_EdD.pdf Chen, G., Gully, S. M., & Eden, D. (2001). Validation of a new general self-efficacy scale. Organizational Research Methods, 4(1), 62-83. doi: 10.1177/109442810141004 Dogra, A. (2010, February 4). Importance of business ethics. Retrieved from http://www.buzzle .com/articles/importance-of-businessethics.html.


O'Reilly III, C. A. (1977). Personality--Job Fit: Implications for Individual Attitudes and Performance. Organizational Behavior & Human Performance, 18(1), 36-46. Randhawa, G. (2007). Relationship between job satisfaction and turnover intentions: an empirical analysis. Indian Management Studies Journal, 11, 149-159. Retrieved from http://smspup.ac.in/imsj/april2007/april20 07_8.pdf Shore, L. M., & Martin, H. J. (1989). Job satisfaction and organizational commitment in relation to work performance and turnover intentions. Human Relations, 42(7), 625-638. doi: 10.1177/001872678904200705 Spector, P.E. (1994) Job Satisfaction Survey. Retrieved July 24, 2004 from http://chuma.cas.usf.edu/~spector/scales/js spag.html Spector, P. E., & Fox, S. (2003). Reducing subjectivity in the assessment of the job environment: Development of the factual autonomy scale (fas). Journal of Organizational Behavior, 24, 417-432. doi: 10.1002/job.l99 Welbourne, T. M. (1997). The role-based performance scale: validity analysis of a theory-based measure. Manuscript submitted for publication, Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.ilr.cornell.edu/cgi/vie wcontent.cgi?article=1146&context=cahrswp &seiredir=1&referer=http://scholar.google.c om/scholar?q=role Westerman, J.W. & Cyr, L.A. (2004). An Integrative Analysis of Person-Organization Fit Theories. International Journal of Selection & Assessment. 17(3), 252-261. doi: 10.1111/j.0965-075X.2004.00281.x


Appendix A: Scales Job Satisfaction Survey: Spector 1. I feel I am being paid a fair amount for the work I do. 2. There is really too little chance for promotion on my job. 3. My supervisor is quite competent in doing his/her job. 4. I am not satisfied with the benefits I receive. 5. When I do a good job, I receive the recognition for it that I should receive. 6. Many of our rules and procedures make doing a good job difficult. 7. I like the people I work with. 8. I sometimes feel my job is meaningless. 9. Communications seem good within this organization. 10. Raises are too few and far between. 11. Those who do well on the job stand a fair chance of being promoted. 12. My supervisor is unfair to me. 13. The benefits we receive are as good as most other organizations offer. 14. I do not feel that the work I do is appreciated. 15. My efforts to do a good job are seldom blocked by red tape. 16. I find I have to work harder at my job because of the incompetence of people I work with. 17. I like doing things I do at work. 18. The goals of this organization are not clear to me. 19. I feel unappreciated by the organization when I think about what they pay me. 20. People get ahead as fast here as they do in other places. 21. My supervisor shows too little interest in the feelings of subordinates. 22. The benefit package we have is equitable. 23. There are few rewards for those who work here. 24. I have too much to do at work. 25. I enjoy my coworkers. 26. I often feel that I do not know what is going on with the organization. 27. I feel a sense of pride in doing my job. 28. I feel satisfied with my chances for salary increases. 29. There are benefits we do not have which we should have. 30. I like my supervisor. 31. I have too much paperwork. 32. I don’t feel my efforts are rewarded the way they should be. 33. I am satisfied with my chances for promotion. 34. There is too much bickering and fighting at work. 35. My job is enjoyable. 36. Work assignments are not fully explained.


Role-Based Performance Scale: Welbourne, Johnson, and Erez JOB (doing things specifically related to one's job description) 1. Quantity of work output. 2. Quality of work output. 3. Accuracy of work. 4. Customer service provided (internal and external). CAREER (obtaining the necessary skills to progress through one's organization) 5. Obtaining personal career goals. 6. Developing skills needed for his/her future career. 7. Making progress in his/her career. 8. Seeking out career opportunities. INNOVATOR (creativity and innovation in one's job and the organization as a whole) 9. Coming up with new ideas. 10. Working to implement new ideas. 11. Finding improved ways to do things. 12. Creating better processes and routines. TEAM (working with coworkers and team members, toward success of the firm) 13. Working as part of a team or work group. 14. Seeking information from others in his/her work group. 15. Making sure his/her work group succeeds. 16. Responding to the needs of others in his/her work group. ORGANIZATION (going above the call of duty in one's concern for the firm) 17. Doing things that helps others when it's not part of his/her job. 18. Working for the overall good of the company." 19. Doing things to promote the company. 20. Helping so that the company is a good place to be. Turnover Intentions Scale: Shore and Martin Unavailable. Refer to Shore, L. M., & Martin, H. J. (1989). Job satisfaction and organizational commitment in relation to work performance and turnover intentions. Human Relations, 42(7), 625-638. doi: 10.1177/001872678904200705 New General Self-Efficacy Scale: Chen, Gully, and Eden 1. I will be able to achieve most of the goals that I have set for myself. 2. When facing difficult tasks, I am certain that I will accomplish them. 3. In general, I think that I can obtain outcomes that are important to me. 4. I believe I can succeed at most any endeavor to which I set my mind. 5. I will be able to successfully overcome many challenges. 6. I am confident that I can perform effectively on many different tasks. 7. Compared to other people, I can do most tasks very well. 8. Even when things are tough, I can perform quite well.


Factual Autonomy Scale: Spector and Fox In your present job, how often do you have to ask permission . . . 1. to take a rest break? 2. to take a lunch/meal break? 3. to leave early for the day? 4. to change the hours you work? 5. to leave my ofďŹ ce or workstation?* 6. to come late to work? 7. to take time off? How often do the following events occur in your present job? 8. How often does someone tell you what you are to do? 9. How often does someone tell you when you are to do your work? 10. How often does someone tell you how you are to do your work?


Ethical Misfit in Organizations