Over the last decade, unethical behaviors with self-benefited motivation have been widely concerned by scholars; yet far less attention has been put to relatively subtle actions, such as unethical pro-organizational behavior (UPB). UPB refers to the action intended to benefit the organization and its members and violate societal ethics. It consists of two main components. First, it’s carried out to help the organization. In addition, UPB is also unethical. The prior research suggested that UPB may have negative in?uences on long-term organizational success. Therefore, many scholars called for developing more theoretical models of UPB.
To date, existing research suggests that positive reciprocity beliefs, affective commitment, and transformational leadership can evoke UPB; however, few focused on the outcome of UPB. To address this issue, we build a cross-level moderated mediation model on employees’ UPB. We investigated the effects of employees’ UPB on career development. Moreover, we focus on testing the mediating role of supervisor-subordinate guanxi and the moderating role of ethical leadership.
In this research, we tested the proposed theoretical framework using the data of 17 enterprises located in Zhejiang and Shanghai Provinces. In order to reduce the homologous error, we collected information from two sources. 399 employees and 92 leaders were valid finally. We first conducted a confirmatory factor analysis by using AMOS 17.0. We also employed HLM 6.08 to test our hypotheses since this is a cross-level research. Finally, we used Mplus 7.0 to test the moderating effects of ethical leadership on the indirect effects between the UPB and employee’s career development by a moderated path analysis.
Generally, this research proposes and testes a moderated mediation model in which employees’ UPB influences career development, with supervisor-subordinate guanxi as mediator, ethical leadership as moderator. The results showed that: (1) Employees’ UPB was positively related to career development; (2) Such relationships were fully mediated by supervisor-subordinate guanxi; (3) Ethical leadership moderated the relationship between employees’ UPB and career development, such that this relationship was only significant when ethical leadership was high.
Our findings provide several theoretical and practical implications. First, our research extends prior researches on the outcomes of UPB by examining the relationship between employees’ UPB and career development. Second, through exploring the mediating role of supervisor-subordinate guanxi, this study advances our understanding regarding the mediation process underlying the relationship between employees’ UPB and career development. Third, we further offer a unique view of when UPB may evoke career development.
Beyond the theoretical implications highlighted above, there are a number of practical strategies that organizations and leaders can use to deal with employees’ UPB. First of all, organization leaders should provide specific ethical code for employees and inhibit employees’ UPB, which will finally destroy organizations’ development. In addition, it’s necessary to cultivate an ethical culture environment, which will enhance leaders’ and employees’ moral standards significantly. Inevitably, there are still some limitations. Finally, we bring a new view for the study of UPB by emphasizing the possibility of positive outcomes.|