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Birth Order, Gender, and the Propensity to Engage in Unethical Behavior

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We continue to grapple with the issue of ethical behavior at work. Some see this as a selection problem in that organizations need to select for certain characteristics related to ethical behavior. There has been a renewed interest in birth order to explain the development of behavioral patterns and predispositions in childhood, so our interest in this study was three-fold, the influence of gender, type of gain, and birth order on the self-reported propensity to engage in unethical behavior. We found that all three of these variables have an influence on the propensity to engage in unethical behavior, although not necessarily in the expected direction. We discuss the organizational implications of these findings.

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