Article Information

The New Perspective on Organizational Wrongdoing
Palmer, Donald A.
56/1  (Fall 2013): 5-23

Wrongdoing in and by organizations offends public sensibilities, is costly to organizations, and is injurious to the individuals who perpetrate it and are victimized by it. The dominant perspective on organizational wrongdoing considers it to be an abnormal phenomenon; behavior that is rare, clearly aberrant, perpetrated by people who are abhorrent (who possess outsized preference structures or perverse values), and produced by a narrow range of out of whack organizational arrangements (most frequently, misaligned incentives or perverse cultures). However, new emerging theory and research on organizational wrongdoing present a fundamentally different perspective. It views wrongdoing as a normal phenomenon; behavior that is prevalent, not much different than right doing, perpetrated by people who are for the most part upstanding (otherwise ethical, socially responsible, and law abiding), and is a function of a plethora of structures, processes, and mechanisms that are integral to the efficient and effective functioning of organizations. This new way of approaching wrongdoing has important implications for managers.

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