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Management article
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Reference no. SMR45312
Published by: MIT Sloan School of Management
Published in: "MIT Sloan Management Review", 2004
Length: 9 pages

Abstract

Companies deploying dishonest tactics toward customers, suppliers, distributors and others typically do so to increase short-term profits, and in that regard they might succeed. But the misconduct is likely to fuel social psychological processes within the organization that have the potential for ruinous fiscal outcomes, outweighing short-term gains. There are three types of consequences to organizational dishonesty: reputation degradation, (mis)matches between values of employees and the organization, and increased surveillance. These outcomes can lead to decreases in repeat business and job satisfaction - and increases in worker turnover, employee theft and other hidden costs. These consequences will, like tumors, spread and eat progressively at the organization''s health and vigor. They will also be difficult to identify through typical accounting methods and might lead to corrective efforts that overshoot the true causes of poor productivity and profitability. Without a thorough understanding of the three types of consequences, an organization could try to control one financial hemorrhage (for example, losses from employee theft) by creating another (namely, investments in increasingly expensive security systems).

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Abstract

Companies deploying dishonest tactics toward customers, suppliers, distributors and others typically do so to increase short-term profits, and in that regard they might succeed. But the misconduct is likely to fuel social psychological processes within the organization that have the potential for ruinous fiscal outcomes, outweighing short-term gains. There are three types of consequences to organizational dishonesty: reputation degradation, (mis)matches between values of employees and the organization, and increased surveillance. These outcomes can lead to decreases in repeat business and job satisfaction - and increases in worker turnover, employee theft and other hidden costs. These consequences will, like tumors, spread and eat progressively at the organization''s health and vigor. They will also be difficult to identify through typical accounting methods and might lead to corrective efforts that overshoot the true causes of poor productivity and profitability. Without a thorough understanding of the three types of consequences, an organization could try to control one financial hemorrhage (for example, losses from employee theft) by creating another (namely, investments in increasingly expensive security systems).

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