Unethical Behaviour in Nigerian Organizational Settings: Its Evolution, Dimensions and Impact on National Development

  •  Leonard I. Ugwu    


A disturbing but unavoidable fact of organizational life is that employees sometimes engage in ethically questionable activities that harm their companies, their co-workers, or the general public. Unethical behaviour in the workplace can take different dimensions ranging from lying, cheating, stealing, sabotage, corruption, to hiding or destruction of official documents. The paper traced the origin of employees’ unethical behaviour to the undesirable activities of the colonialists and the corresponding employees’ tacit resistance that manifested in the form of unethical behaviour. The employees’ undesirable activities were designed to reduce the perceived input-outcome differentials that favoured the colonialists. The questionable ethical activities of the employees have the potential of slowing down the pace of economic development and tarnish the image of the organizations, with gross reduction in public confidence, which invariably deter investors. Consequently, the economic costs of such unethical behaviour in the workplace cannot easily be estimated, but it is likely that billions of Naira is lost annually. The paper contends that individual value system, organizational practices, and wider external environments are some influential factors of unethical behaviour, and therefore, recommends periodic workshops, seminars, and ethics training for employees so that they can internalize high ethical standards in their daily behaviour.

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