Lying, deceit, and subterfuge: A model of dishonesty in the workplace

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Honesty is a key element of ethical behavior in organizations, yet has received little theoretical or empirical attention. This article derives a model of the antecedents of deception in organizations. Self-interest theories, such as agency theory, and prosocial behavior theories of behavior are reviewed and an argument developed that intrapersonal conflict may meld the divergent theories and explain lying in organizations. Role theory identities potential sources of intrapersonal conflict in organizations that may serve as antecedent to lying. Different types of role conflict are examined, each of which may lead to distress, and, in turn, may be resolved through deception: People may behave according to one role demand, and then state, or create the impression of, having behaved according to another role demand.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)478-495
Number of pages18
JournalOrganization Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Aug 1993
Externally publishedYes


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