Immoreel gedrag aan de top van de organisatie werkt door in het gedrag van lagere echelons. Het gedrag van top-mensen werkt aldus besmettend.
Goed nieuws: zo werkt het lang niet altijd. Doorslaggevend blijkt de houding van het middenmanagement. Als midden-managers voldoende afstand houden tot de foute types is ‘het trickle down effect’ van wangedrag gering.
Zie het filmpje en lees over het onderzoek van Gijs van Houwelingen van Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM).
So companies that want to be moral shouldn’t only look to the top layer of management for guidance. Middle managers, as it turns out, can be seen as the most important gatekeepers against the spread of unethical behaviour from the top.
Van Houwelingen’s research reveals that distance plays an important part in either rejecting or copying unethical behaviour demonstrated by a misbehaving supervisor or top-level manager. Distance provides a form of ‘insulation’ against the influence of higher-level misbehaviour. In other words: The closer an employee feels to their boss, the more likely they are to subconsciously mirror the behaviour. When distance is larger, this effect diminishes or even reverses: when the distance between middle managers and the top is sufficiently big middle managers were found to be more likely to contrast top-level misbehaviour. They actually became fairer once confronted with a boss behaving unethically.
Distance: a surprising way to keep your company ethical
Distance may mean here simply physical proximity or remoteness such as sharing an office, sitting at adjacent desks, being on the same floor or building or being on the same rung of the hierarchical ladder. Or it can mean psychological or social distance; having empathy for someone, being able to relate to that person, or feeling like part of the same team. In fact, the research shows that physical distance often translates into social or psychological distance; we are better able to relate with those that are (physically) closer to us.
Surprisingly, up to now higher interpersonal distance has mostly been seen as an impediment to safeguarding the ethical climate of the organizations. For instance, distance may make employees think they can get away with fraud or theft. However, as Gijs van Houwelingen shows, there are indeed unexpected virtues of distance: it may help prevent misbehaviour from spreading throughout the organization.
Bron en meer informatie: RSMDiscovery
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