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

Merrick Li, Z. and Linton, O. A ReMeDI for Microstructure Noise Econometrica [2022]

Porzio, T., Rossi, F. and Santangelo, G. The Human Side of Structural Transformation American Economic Review [2022]

Evans, R. A. and Reiche, S. K. When Is a Contrarian Adviser Optimal? American Economic Journal: Microeconomics [2023]

Bhattacharya, D. and Komarova, T. Incorporating Social Welfare in Program-Evaluation and Treatment Choice Review of Economics and Statistics, accepted [2024]