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Management and Organizations
Fuqua School of Business
Duke University

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Publications [#339668] of Aaron C. Kay

Journal Articles

  1. Fath, S; Kay, AC, “If hierarchical, then corrupt”: Exploring people's tendency to associate hierarchy with corruption in organizations, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, vol. 149 (November, 2018), pp. 145-164, Elsevier BV [doi]
    (last updated on 2022/08/09)

    We propose that people associate organizational hierarchy with corruption. Nine studies (N = 1896) provide triangulating evidence for this tendency and its underlying mechanism. We find that people expect more corruption to manifest among the employees of relatively more hierarchical organizations, and judge an organization with a history of corruption more likely to be hierarchical than one without. Furthermore, we show that the lay belief that hierarchy and corruption are connected is driven by two related assumptions: (i) that the more hierarchical an organization is, the more likely it is that its employees are competitive with each other, and (ii) that the more competitive employees are with each other, the more likely they are to be corrupt. Finally, we connect these lay beliefs to behavioral outcomes involved in trusting people who work for very hierarchical organizations and those organizations themselves. Implications, limitations, and future directions are discussed.

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