Goal setting as a motivator of unethical behavior

Maurice E. Schweitzer, Lisa Ordóñez, Bambi Douma

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

422 Scopus citations


We explored the role of goal setting in motivating unethical behavior in a laboratory experiment. We found that people with unmet goals were more likely to engage in unethical behavior than people attempting to do their best. This relationship held for goals both with and without economic incentives. We also found that the relationship between goal setting and unethical behavior was particularly strong when people fell just short of reaching their goals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)422-432
Number of pages11
JournalAcademy of Management Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2004

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Strategy and Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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