skip to content

Faculty of Economics

Journal Cover

Kilduff, G., Galinksy, A., Gallo, E. and Reade, J.

Whatever it takes to win: Rivalry increases unethical behavior

Academy of Management Journal

Vol. 59(5) pp. 1508-1534 (2016)

Abstract: This research investigates the link between rivalry and unethical behavior. We propose that people will be more likely to engage in unethical behavior when competing against their rivals than when competing against non-rival competitors. Across an archival study and a series of experiments, we found that rivalry was associated with increased unsportsmanlike behavior, use of deception, and willingness to employ unethical negotiation tactics. We also explored the psychological underpinnings of rivalry, which help to illuminate how rivalry differs from general competition and why it increases unethical behavior. The data reveal a serial mediation pathway whereby rivalry heightens the psychological stakes of competition (by increasing actors' contingency of self-worth and status concerns), which leads them to adopt a stronger performance approach orientation, which then increases unethical behavior. These findings highlight the importance of rivalry as a widespread, powerful, yet largely unstudied phenomenon with significant organizational implications. They also help to inform when and why unethical behavior occurs within organizations, and demonstrate that the effects of competition are dependent upon relationships and prior interactions between actors.

Author links: Edoardo Gallo  

Publisher's Link:

Papers and Publications

Recent Publications

Elliott, M. and Golub, B. A Network Approach to Public Goods Journal of Political Economy [2019]

Carvalho, V. M., Nirei, M., Saito, Y. U. and Tahbaz-Salehi, A. Supply Chain Disruptions: Evidence from the Great East Japan Earthquake Quarterly Journal of Economics, forthcoming [2021]

Todd, P. E. and Zhang, W. A Dynamic Model of Personality, Schooling, and Occupational Choice Quantitative Economics [2020]

Bergin, P. R. and Corsetti, G. Beyond Competitive Devaluations: The Monetary Dimensions of Comparative Advantage American Economic Journal: Macroeconomics [2020]