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Journal Articles Personnel Review Year : 2019

Workplace corruption: a resource conservation perspective


Purpose The purpose of this paper is to provide elements for human resource management to better understand workplace corruption in order to prevent and to manage corrupt behaviors at work. Design/methodology/approach In this study, a quantitative research methodology ( n =575) is used; the sample is selected from French public sector employees. Multiple regression analysis assesses the impact on corrupt behaviors (e.g. bribary and property deviance) of selected determinant psychological resources (e.g. powerlessness, distributive and procedural justice and sense of mastery). Findings Main results highlight that sense of mastery, distributive justice and procedural justice have a negative impact on workplace corruption, whereas powerlessness has a positive impact on workplace corruption. The direct impact and relationships that are explored between selected determinant psychological resources and workplace corruption contribute to the literature on corrupt acts and conservation of resources (COR) theory. Sense of mastery, power, procedural and distributive justices are considered as personal resources for employees at workplace. Individuals thoughtfully engage in corrupt acts and behaviors as a defensive move to protect perceived threats on valued motivation factors. Research limitations/implications At an empirical level, the research is limited to a sample from public sector employees. Similar to the structures of public and private organizations, which are different, determinants of organizational corruption in public and private sectors are also different. Another main limitation is the cross-sectional design. Investigating motivation-based dynamics of corruption would benefit from longitudinal methodology. Practical implications The present research suggests that a COR-based management of human resources can be of functional use on at least two grounds. First, COR theory shifts the perspective from a moral and macro-economic issues to a psychological plane. Second, and by staying in tune with motivational processes, a COR-based management is suited to prevent corrupt mechanisms fueled by frustrated or endangered motivational resources. Originality/value On the basis of an original taxonomy of workplace corruption, a research model is developed using the framework of COR theory (Hobfoll, 1989). As a non-inductive approach, corruption is considered from the standpoint of a rational defensive attitude on the part of employees seeking to preserve valued psychological resources. A COR-based perspective also allows for a preventive “salutogenic” management style of corrupt behaviors.
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Dates and versions

hal-03688652 , version 1 (05-06-2022)



Benjamin Kakavand, Jean-Pierre Neveu, Aria Teimourzadeh. Workplace corruption: a resource conservation perspective. Personnel Review, 2019, 49 (1), pp.250-264. ⟨10.1108/PR-08-2018-0303⟩. ⟨hal-03688652⟩
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