Unethical Pro-organizational Behavior: A Moderated Mediational Model of Its Transmission From Managers to Employees

Canh M. Nguyen, Lu Zhang, David Morand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This study explores the psychological mechanism underlying and the boundary conditions affecting the relationship between managers’ unethical pro-organizational behavior (UPB) and subordinates’ willingness to engage in UPB. Drawing upon social learning and social cognitive theories, employee moral disengagement was predicted to mediate the relationship between managers’ UPB and employees’ UPB willingness; in addition, the moderating roles of both leader–member exchange and ethical relativism were investigated within this relationship. The results, based on 29 managers and 200 subordinates in Vietnam, supported the proposed mediation model. The findings further indicated that leader–member exchange augmented the positive relationship between managers’ UPB and employee moral disengagement, whereas employee ethical relativism weakened the positive relationship between moral disengagement and employees’ UPB willingness. By elucidating the underlying mechanism and boundary conditions, our findings offer an empirical basis for considering managers’ UPB as a critical antecedent to employees’ willingness to engage in UPB and also inform effective intervention approaches for organizations to constrain UPB.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)379-393
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Leadership and Organizational Studies
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2021

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business and International Management
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management Science and Operations Research


Dive into the research topics of 'Unethical Pro-organizational Behavior: A Moderated Mediational Model of Its Transmission From Managers to Employees'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this