The Role of risk climate and ethical self-interest climate in predicting unethical pro-organisational behaviour

Elizabeth Sheedy*, Patrick Garcia, Denise Jepsen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
61 Downloads (Pure)


Unethical pro-organisational behaviour (UPB) is an ongoing concern, prompting the need for more nuanced understanding of the workplace environment most likely to inhibit it. This study considers the role of risk climate, sometimes referred to as risk culture, as well as ethical climate, for reducing UPB. The study investigates whether four risk climate factors (avoidance, valued, proactive and manager) can, by focusing on the long-term consequences of UPB to the organisation, and providing guidance on behavioural norms, reduce UPB misconduct. Surveying employees in three financial institutions we found that only one of the risk climate factors, avoidance, is consistently associated with UPB. On the other hand, a self-interested, (un)ethical climate significantly increases UPB in all samples. In multi-climate analysis, we found that risk climate factors interacted with ethical climate to predict UPB. That is, when employees perceive that the workplace ethos is not self-interested, three factors of risk climate—avoidance, proactive and manager—significantly predict UPB. UPB is least likely when self-interest is low, avoidance risk climate is low, proactive risk climate is high and manager risk climate is high. Implications for leaders are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)281-300
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number2
Early online date23 May 2020
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright © The Author(s) 2020. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • Ethical climate
  • Financial services
  • Misconduct
  • Multiple climates
  • Risk climate
  • Risk culture
  • Unethical pro-organisational behaviour


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