A new paper co-authored by faculty at the University of Utah’s David Eccles School of Business and Rutgers’ Business School examines corruption in the workplace and postulates that even the moral and well-intentioned can fall into corrupt practices — and emotions play a pivotal role. Although corruption in the workplace is usually seen as the seedy underbelly of corporate America, reserved for high-level executives acting willfully against the moral heart of their organization, the theory put forward in the paper indicates corruption is not reserved for only the greedy.

While research in the field of organizational corruption has largely focused on the end result of corruption and its effects in the workplace, very little research has been done to understand how corruption spreads – how the wrongdoing of one or a few people turns into a coordinated effort of a number of people to do wrong on behalf of their organizations.

“It’s not too hard to understand how greed can lead people to succumb to the temptations of corruption,” said Kristin Smith-Crowe, one of the authors of this new theory. “It’s fascinating to us that morally minded people can succumb to corruption. We think that