The agility, productivity, and financial success of companies depends largely on the quality of their human capital. Employee misbehaviors targeting the organization and individual colleagues leads to poor performance, bad attitudes, and an eroding corporate culture. While hundreds of studies have examined independent effects of moral personality, moral identity, ethical ideology, and organizational justice perceptions on workplace behavior, this is the first offering a moderated-mediation model to collectively explain deviant workplace behavior. The goals of this study were twofold. First, it sought to provide a more comprehensive understanding of how moral and ethical traits combine with state-based perceptions of organizational justice to explain variances in workplace deviance. Second, it aimed to provide practitioners with guidelines and practices regarding talent acquisition, leadership development, and employee engagement. This study consisted of a cross-sectional quantitative examination of 318 full-time employees of U.S. durable goods merchant wholesalers. Comprised of two sequential surveys, the study found significant relationships between moral personality, moral identity, and workplace deviance, partially mediated by the idealism factor of ethical ideology. Further, perceptions of informational justice and procedural justice moderated the idealism-deviance relationship. However, when organizational citizenship behaviors were examined as an outcome, the same mediation and moderation effects were not present. Overall, this study suggests researchers should consider more complex moderated-mediation models when evaluating causes of workplace misconduct. New theoretical models are presented offering talent acquisition practitioners a set of recommendations for employee pre-screening, engagement, wellness, and leadership training. Limitations and suggestions for further research are also discussed.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

Organizational justice; Work environment; Ethics

Date of Award


School Affiliation

Graziadio Business School



Degree Type


Degree Name


Faculty Advisor

Kevin S. Groves