Original Research

Exploring the effects of power distance orientation on unethical pro-organisational behaviour from the perspective of management

Yiran Li, Shanshu He, Minyoung Song, Jeongho Jeon
South African Journal of Business Management | Vol 54, No 1 | a3437 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/sajbm.v54i1.3437 | © 2023 Yiran Li, Shanshu He, Minyoung Song, Jeongho Jeon | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 02 June 2022 | Published: 09 March 2023

About the author(s)

Yiran Li, Institute for Educational Research, College of Educational Sciences, Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea, Republic of
Shanshu He, College of Administration and Business, Dankook University, Yongin, Korea, Republic of
Minyoung Song, College of Business Administration, Dongguk University, Seoul, Korea, Republic of
Jeongho Jeon, Faculty of Human Organization Management, Dankook University, Yongin, Korea, Republic of

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Purpose: This study verifies whether the personal psychological factor of power distance disposition is perceived as conformity or obedience to the parties, triggers unethical pro-organisational behaviour (UPB) and is reinforced by hierarchy and market cultures.

Design/methodology/approach: Structural equation model analysis was used to test the hypotheses, and Process macro was used to test the moderating effect rigorously. A survey was conducted from 15 August 2018 to 20 September 2018, and 565 questionnaires were collected for analysis.

Findings/results: The effect of power distance orientation (PDO) on UPB was determined by deriving the regression coefficient with the control variable input in the relationship between the independent and dependent variables. Power distance orientation had a significant positive effect on UPB, even after controlling the influence of demographic variables. Pro-organisational members do not refrain from unethical actions when carrying out the tasks assigned by the company. This causal relationship is strengthened when hierarchy and market cultures are reinforced.

Practical implications: To instil ethical behaviour in employees, a company must continuously manage the organisational culture and atmosphere, as well as educate and train employees on the company’s code of ethics.

Originality/value: This study contributes to the limited body of knowledge examining both PDO (i.e. individual psychological factor) and organisational culture (i.e. work environment factor) as factors inducing UPB.


Sustainable management; power distance orientation; unethical pro-organisational behaviour; hierarchy culture; market culture; decision-making; social cognitive theory; social identity theory


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