Ethical Conflict: Conceptualization, Measurement, and an Examination of Consequences

Michael E. Brown, Ryan M. Vogel, Mustafa Akben

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Previous research on workplace conflict has focused on disagreements about work tasks, processes, and personal relationships. However, conflicts often involve matters of right and wrong; yet, ethical conflict is notably absent from the literature. Informed by moral convictions theory, we introduce the construct of ethical conflict, create and validate a measure of it, and explore its unique effects on workplace outcomes. Ultimately, we find that ethical conflict is a double-edged sword: It is negatively associated with team dynamics (i.e., decreased satisfaction with group, group viability, group cohesion, group psychological safety; increased negative emotions; and perceived goal difficulty) as well as group performance on a nonethics-related task, but positively related to moral cognition (i.e., moral awareness and moral identity accessibility) and elaboration of information and perspectives during group ethical decision making. Overall, our studies provide a conceptual and empirical foundation for the future research on ethical conflict.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1130-1149
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Applied Psychology
Issue number7
StatePublished - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Applied Psychology


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