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Published in: Journal of Business Ethics 3/2022

16-11-2020 | Original Paper

Consequentialist Motives for Punishment Signal Trustworthiness

Authors: Nathan A. Dhaliwal, Daniel P. Skarlicki, JoAndrea Hoegg, Michael A. Daniels

Published in: Journal of Business Ethics | Issue 3/2022

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Abstract

Upholding cooperative norms via punishment is of central importance in organizations. But what effect does punishing have on the reputation of the punisher? Although previous research shows third parties can garner reputational benefits for punishing transgressors who violate social norms, we proposed that such reputational benefits can vary based on the perceived motive for the punishment. In Studies 1 and 2, we found that individuals who endorsed a consequentialist (versus deontological) motive for punishing were seen as more trustworthy. In Study 3, the results showed that when pitted against one another, a person who endorsed a consequentialist (versus deontological) motive for punishing was chosen more often as a partner in a Trust Game. In Study 4, we found that a manager who expressed a consequentialist reason for punishing an employee was seen as having less psychopathic tendencies, and this related to the manager being perceived as more trustworthy and a superior cooperation partner. Using a recall methodology, Study 5 results showed that employees who perceived their managers as having more consequentialist (versus deontological) motives for punishing also perceived their managers as being less psychopathic and more trustworthy. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.
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Footnotes
1
It should be noted that we use the term third-party punishment in this paper in the broad sense, meaning any third-party who punishes a violator for harming a victim. This includes cases where the third-party is a designated punisher, such as a manager, as well as cases where the third-party’s role is not specified.
 
2
It warrants noting that if a deontologist justifies their punishment decision with less emphasis on the need for the violator to pay and more of an emphasis on their duty to punish wrongful acts, the risk involved in pairing with the deontologist becomes less severe, resulting in a greater perceived probability that the deontologist is as trustworthy as the consequentialist. We examine this in the Supplementary Study 6.
 
3
In our Supplementary Study 6 we found that managers who express deontological motives with more of an emphasis on how punishing wrongdoing is “the right thing to do”, signal similar levels of trustworthiness as consequentialist punishers. With that said, such deontological punishers were never seen as more trustworthy than consequentialist punishers, even when they referenced concern about the victim. Thus, it seems that consequentialist punishing signals at least equal and often superior levels of trustworthiness, lending support to the notion that people infer high-quality character traits when punishers express consequentialist motives for punishing.
 
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Metadata
Title
Consequentialist Motives for Punishment Signal Trustworthiness
Authors
Nathan A. Dhaliwal
Daniel P. Skarlicki
JoAndrea Hoegg
Michael A. Daniels
Publication date
16-11-2020
Publisher
Springer Netherlands
Published in
Journal of Business Ethics / Issue 3/2022
Print ISSN: 0167-4544
Electronic ISSN: 1573-0697
DOI
https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-020-04664-5