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workplace Values, ethics, and Emotions


Opening Vignette: The Warehouse

The Warehouse in New Zealand is one of the world’s top discount retailers because of its social responsibility practices and “people first” values. “We have discovered that our policies of putting team members first … enables [them] to put the customers first and to provide exceptional service,” explains founder Stephen Tindall.

Values at work

Values defined

•        Stable, long-lasting beliefs about what is important

•        Define what is right or wrong, good or bad

•        Values are important in OB-- influence perceptions, decisions, and actions

•        Personal, cultural, organizational, professional values

Terminal versus instrumental values

•        Terminal values -- desired states worth striving for

•        Instrumental values -- desirable modes of behavior that help us reach the objectives of terminal values

Espoused versus enacted values

•        Espoused values -- values that we want others to believe we abide by.

--  values are socially desirable, so people claim to hold values that others expect them to embrace.

•        Enacted values -- values we actually rely on to guide our decisions and actions (values-in-use)


Importance of values at work

1.       Globalization

--  raised our awareness of and sensitivity to differences in values across cultures

--  consistent decisions and actions requires aligning people with diverse values toward a common set of goals

2.       Replacing direct supervision

--  Workforce resents the traditional “command-and-control” supervision to guide employee behavior

--  Values are more subtle controls

3.       Societal demands for ethical conduct

--  Ethics -- the study of moral principles or values that determine whether actions are right or wrong and outcomes are good or bad

--  Organizations are under increasing pressure to engage in ethical practices

Aligning personal with organizational values

•        Problems when employee’s personal values are misaligned with company’s values

--  decisions conflict with organizational goals

--  employees experience higher levels of stress and turnover.

•        Minimize misalignment:

--  select applicants with similar values

--  provide realistic recruitment (realistic job previews – see Chapter 18)

--  change corporate values, where appropriate

Aligning organizational with societal values

•        Need to minimize conflict with values of society

Cultural Differences in Values


•        Degree that people value their group (collectivists) versus individual goals (individualists)

•        Collectivists tend to::

a.  Identify themselves by group membership

b.  Give priority of group goals

c.  Put more emphasis on harmonious relationships,

d.  Have more socially-based emotions (indebtedness)


Power distance

•        extent that people accept unequal distribution of power in a society

•        People with high power distance are comfortable receiving commands from their superiors and resolving conflicts through formal rules and authority

Uncertainty avoidance

•        degree to which people tolerate ambiguity (low uncertainty avoidance) or feel threatened by ambiguity and uncertainty (high uncertainty avoidance).

Achievement - Nurturing Orientation

•        (Also known as masculinity-femininity)

•        Achievement -- assertiveness, competitiveness, materialism

•        Nurturing -- valuing relationships, others’ well-being

Long or Short-term Orientation

•        Long-term -- Anchor thoughts more in the future than past and present; value thrift, savings, and persistence,

•        Short-term -- Emphasize the past and present, such as respect for tradition and fulfilling social obligations

Three concerns with cross-cultural values knowledge

1.       Representativeness

--  mostly based on IBM employees and students

2.       Cultures have changed

--  IBM data over 20 years old – some changes since then

3.       Assumes homogeneous culture

--  personal values are quite diverse in some countries, so overall statements are stereotypic


Ethical Values and Behavior

Ethics -- Beliefs about whether certain actions are good or bad, directing them to what is virtuous and right.

Social responsibility -- a person’s or organization’s moral obligation toward others who are affected by his or her actions

Three ethical principles

1.       Utilitarianism

--  seek the greatest good for the greatest number

--  problem: ignores morality of means to end

2.       Individual rights

--  personal entitlements to act a certain way

--  problem of conflicting rights

3.       Distributive Justice

--  conditions are ethical when (a) everyone has equal access to favored positions and (b) inequalities benefit the least well-off in society

--  problem: determining when the least well off benefit

Moral Intensity, Ethical Sensitivity, and Situational Influences

•        Moral intensity

--  degree that issue demands ethical principles

•        Ethical sensitivity

--  person’s ability to recognize the presence and determine the relative importance of an ethical issue

--  ethically sensitive people have higher empathy, more knowledge of the situation

•        Situational influences

--  competitive pressures and other conditions affect ethical behavior


Cultural differences

•        Ethical conduct varies across cultures mainly due to different interpretations of moral intensity of the situation


Supporting ethical values

•        Ethical codes of conduct, training, rewards

Emotions Defined

Feelings experienced toward an object , person, or event that create a state of readiness.

•        Demand attention and interrupt train of thought.

•        Experienced through thoughts, behaviors and physiological reactions.

•        Directed toward someone or something (unlike moods which are not directed)

Emotions, Attitudes and Behavior

Attitudes defined -- the cluster of beliefs, assessed feelings, and behavioral intentions toward an object

•        Judgments about the attitude object.

•        We feel emotions, whereas we think about attitudes.

•        Attitudes are more stable over time than are emotions

Three components of attitudes  

•        Beliefs -- perceptions about the attitude object

•        Feelings -- positive or negative assessment of our emotional experiences relating to the attitude object

•        Behavioral intentions -- motivation to engage in a particular behavior toward attitude object

Linking Emotions to Behavior

1. From beliefs and emotions to feelings

•        Feelings toward object based on beliefs about object

•        Emotions also influence feelings -- e.g. having fun on a Southwest creates a positive feeling toward Southwest

•        Emotions may precede perceptions of a situation -- occurs when we rationalize our emotions

2. From feelings to intentions

•        Beliefs and feelings influence intentions

•        But people with same feelings can form different intentions due to different perceptions about consequences

3. From intentions to behavior

•        Intentions are best predictor of actual performance

•        Behavior depends not just on motivation, but also on ability, role perceptions, and situational contingencies

4. From emotions to behavior

•        Emotions can have a direct effect on behavior when people react to their emotions (e.g. banging a fist on the desk).

Cognitive Dissonance

•        An uncomfortable tension (dissonance) that occurs when an individual’s beliefs, attitudes, intentions, and behaviors are inconsistent with one another.

•        People change attitude to be more consistent with past behaviors

•        Most common when behavior is known to others, done voluntarily, and can’t be undone

Emotions and Personality

•        Positive affectivity (PA) -- tendency to experience positive emotional states -- similar to extroversion

•        Negative affectivity (NA) -- tendency to experience negative emotional states


Managing Emotions

Emotional Labor

•        Effort, planning and control needed to express organizationally desired emotions during interpersonal transactions.

•        Employees are expected to abide by display rules when interacting with customers, co-workers, etc.

Emotional labor is more challenging where:

•        Job requires frequent personal contact with clients and others

•        Employees must display a variety of emotions

•        Firms establish strict display rules (e.g. Walt Disney World)

Problems with emotional labor

•        True emotions leak out – especially anger

•        Emotional dissonance -- conflict between required and true emotions

•        Cross-cultural differences in emotional labor expectations

Supporting emotional labor

•        Training

–   teach subtle appropriate/appropriate display rules

–   “smile school” in Japan –learning to display positive emotions

•        Hire for attitude (e.g. Kohl’s department store)

-- matching the individual’s values and personality with job’s emotional requirements

-- hire people with emotional intelligence


Emotional Intelligence

Medical professionals at Jerry L. Pettis Memorial VA Medical Center in Loma Linda, California are attending special classes at the Veteran’s Administration where they receive their personal EQ profile and learn to improve their emotional intelligence


Emotional intelligence defined

•        Ability to monitor your own and others’ emotions, to discriminate among them, and to use the information to guide your thinking and actions


Five dimensions of emotional intelligence

•        Self-awareness – understand our emotional tendencies; anticipate how events affect our emotions; similar to self-monitoring personality

•        Self-regulation – controlling or redirecting emotional outbursts; suspending judgment

•        Self-motivation – stifle impulses, aim emotions toward personal goals, delay gratification -- similar to self-leadership

•        Empathy – ability to understand and be sensitive to the feelings, thoughts, and situation of others.

•        Social skill – ability to manage the emotions of others; build rapport and networks

Improving emotional intelligence

•        Assess EQ to find weaknesses,

•        Teach EQ – need more than a classroom – need coaching

•        EQ increases with age – part of maturity


EQ is also related to several personality traits -- extroversion, conscientiousness, agreeableness, and emotional stability, and openness to experience

Job Satisfaction

An appraisal of the perceived job content and context and an employee’s emotional experience at work.

•        Collection of attitudes toward specific job facets

•        Employee can be satisfied with some facets but not others

•        Different facets of satisfaction have different effects on employee behavior

Levels of job satisfaction

•        Most employees claim to be generally satisfied with their jobs

•        Probably inflated because:

--  revealing job dissatisfaction in a single direct question threatens self-esteem

--  lower satisfaction with specific facets of job

--  one-third of Americans say they would be happier in another job

Job satisfaction and work behaviors 

•        Higher job satisfaction is related to lower turnover, lower absenteeism, better physical and mental health, less unionization and militancy, and less theft and sabotage

Ethics of job satisfaction

•        Many societies expect companies to provide work environments that are safe and enjoyable

•        Leaders embarrassed when morale problems go public

Weak association between job satisfaction and performance (happy workers aren’t necessarily more productive workers) because:

1.       General attitudes predict specific behaviors poorly -- e.g. some dissatisfied employees reduce work effort, others perform well while looking for another job

2.       Job performance affects job satisfaction, but only when performance is linked to valued rewards (which many companies don’t do very well)

Customer satisfaction at Ipswitch

•        Ipswitch founder and CEO Roger Greene (center) has taken all 130 employees on a four-day cruise in the Bahamas.  He believes that keeping employees happy will keep customers happy.

Employee-customer-profit chain model

•        Organizational practices improve job satisfaction

•        Job satisfaction improves customer perceptions of value through:

--  less employee turnover – more consistent and familiar service

--  improved staff motivation to serve customers

--  job satisfaction affects mood, which leads to positive behaviors toward customers

•        Increased customer perceptions of value improves customer satisfaction, retention, and referrals

•        Improved customer satisfaction, retention, and referrals results in higher revenue growth and profits

Organizational Commitment 

Two types of organizational commitment:

1.       Affective commitment -- emotional attachment to, identification with, and involvement in an organization

2.       Continuance commitment -- believing it is in their own personal interest to remain with the organization.

Positive outcomes of employee loyalty (affective commitment)

•        Lower turnover, higher job performance, more organizational citizenship

Negative outcomes of employee loyalty

•        Too little turnover – less new blood

•        Results in conformity which holds back creativity

Building Organizational Commitment 

Practice better day-to-day management of employees

1.           Fairness and satisfaction

•        Equitable work experiences; sharing rewards

2. Job security

•        Employees should feel some permanence and mutuality in the employment relationship --minimize layoff threats

3. Organizational comprehension

•        Keep employees informed about the company

4. Employee involvement -- increases loyalty in two ways:

a.       Employees feel part of the organization when involved in decisions

b.       Demonstrates company’s trust in its employees

5. Trust

•        Employee should have positive expectations about the employer’s intentions and actions

•        Need to show trust to receive trust