Moral Disengagement

Regular employees have an enormous capacity to influence positive organizational change. It’s important to understand how this human capacity is activated. Activating positive human agency, and engaging one’s moral initiative, is important for enabling organizational change.

People naturally and selectively activate and disengage the self-regulating processes related to ethical behavior. Organizational culture acts to prompt this selective process. This can be thought of as a process of moral engagement and disengagement.

Moral disengagement is a well-established social psychological phenomenon. This involves a self-deceptive process of cognitively restructuring one’s own views of morality, obscuring one’s sense of personal agency, misrepresenting the consequences of one’s actions, and blaming one’s victim. While we study this process, we’re more concerned with understanding moral engagement.

Moral engagement is a fundamental aspect of the individual decision to try to effect positive organizational change. We’re working to understand the organizational cultures that promote moral engagement.

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