Withstanding moral disengagement: Moral self-efficacy as moderator in counterproductive behavior routinization

Roberta Fida, Marinella Paciello, Irene Skovgaard-Smith, Claudio Barbaranelli, Gian Vittorio Caprara

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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Moral disengagement plays an important role in the routinization of counterproductive work behavior (CWB) as a key mediator. What remains unclear are the factors that could attenuate the power of moral disengagement in this process. Building on social-cognitive theory, we hypothesize the moderating role of moral self-efficacy and suggest the importance of two different dimensions: self-reflective and behavioral moral self-efficacies. While the former should buffer the CWB-moral disengagement path over time, the latter should buffer the moral disengagement-CWB path. After presenting the psychometric properties of the moral self-efficacy scale in two independent samples (Study 1: United Kingdom, N = 359; Study 2: Italy, N = 1308), we test the posited multi-wave moderated-mediated model. Results from a structural equation model supported our hypotheses. Results demonstrate that the routinization of CWB through the mediation of moral disengagement over time is conditionally influenced by the two moral self-efficacy dimensions. Employees high in capability to look back and question the assumptions that affected their behavior (i.e., self-reflective moral self-efficacy) are less likely to morally disengage as a result of previous engagement in CWB. Employees high in capability to morally self-regulate (i.e., behavioral moral self-efficacy) are less likely to engage in CWB as a result of their moral disengagement. Results of the conditional indirect effect suggest that previous engagement in CWB is not translated in future engagement in CWB for those individuals high in both moral self-efficacy dimensions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1096-1134
Number of pages39
JournalGroup & Organization Management
Issue number4
Early online date26 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2023


  • counterproductive work behavior
  • moderation
  • moral disengagement
  • moral self-efficacy
  • self-reflection
  • self-regulation
  • slippery slope

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