Influence of organizational citizenship behavior on prosocial rule breaking: Moral licensing perspective

Tingting Liu1, Chang'e Liu1, Erhua Zhou2
1School of Business Administration, Hunan University of Commerce, People’s Republic of China
2School of Management, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, People’s Republic of China
Cite this article:  Liu, T., Liu, C., & Zhou, E. (2019). Influence of organizational citizenship behavior on prosocial rule breaking: Moral licensing perspective. Social Behavior and Personality: An international journal, 47, e8079.

Volume 47 Issue 6 | e8079 | Published: June 2019 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.8079

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Researchers have introduced the prosocial rule breaking (PSRB) concept to explain situations where employees encounter an ethical dilemma between promoting the welfare of the organization and following organizational regulations. PSRB can be regarded as ethical decision making in an organization, but few researchers have used ethical decision theories to study it. Adopting the moral licensing perspective, we argued that organizational citizenship behavior (OCB), the typical form of moral conduct within organizations, would predict PSRB, and that this relationship would be mediated by moral self-image and moderated by intrinsic motivation for OCB. Results of our 2-wave survey of 433 Chinese employees showed that employees’ OCB had a positive effect on PSRB through the mediator of moral self-image. Additionally, when intrinsic motivation toward OCB was high, the relationship between OCB and moral self-image was amplified and gave more confidence to employees to practice PSRB. Our findings contribute to the understanding of PSRB and moral licensing theory.

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