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Management and Organization

Linda Treviño, Distinguished Professor of Organizational Behavior and Ethics

Treviño is interested in why people act ethically and unethically in organizations, and how to encourage the former and discourage the latter. These actions result from individual differences, an organization's ethical culture, climate or leadership, or characteristics of the situation that lead people to see the situation in moral terms (or not) and act ethically or unethically. Treviño has worked on numerous research projects that address these and related issues.  One recent project, conducted with colleagues, sought to statistically review 20 years of research on these various influences on unethical decisions and found support for influences in all three categories. An intriguing finding suggests that unethical decisions may be more impulsive than deliberative. This finding challenges the long-standing assumption that ethical decision-making is always a conscious, rational, and intentional process. Another set of projects relates to the aspect of ethical decision-making that occurs below conscious awareness. People use a variety of tactics to disengage their own internally held moral standards and justify unethical decisions. These "moral disengagement" tactics lead people to suspend moral self-regulation and make unethical decisions without apparent guilt or remorse. Examples of such tactics are "everyone else is cheating so why shouldn't I" or "my boss made me fudge the numbers—I had no choice." The extent to which people use these tactics is related to stable personal differences such as empathy, moral identity, and cynicism. The use of these tactics can also be triggered by characteristics of the situation, such as the amount of self-interest embedded in it. People who use moral disengagement tactics are also more likely to make unethical decisions.

Wenpin Tsai, Associate Professor of Business Administration

A firm has to identify not only who its competitors are but also comprehend how its competitors view the competitive world. Most of the existing research on competitor analysis focuses on the former but neglects the latter. The importance of comprehending a competitor's worldview has only been argued anecdotally in practical advice and prescriptions. Tsai and his colleagues are studying the extent to which a firm may form a perception of the competitive world that accurately reflects each rival's viewpoint, and how the accuracy of this perception influences a firm's relative market performance. They find that the nature of the firm's relationships with other firms in its industry influences the accuracy of the firm's comprehension of its competitor's worldview. They also find that such accuracy can help a firm to reduce its market share gap with the industry market leader or even dethrone the leader.