Based on a social identity analysis, the authors argue that people are attracted to teams and organizations with positive features. Such features can refer to the competence and achievements of the organization, or to its moral values and ethical conduct. However, in work contexts, ethics and achievements do not necessarily go together. The paper reports three studies that examine the relative and combined impact of perceived competence vs morality of a team or organization on its attractiveness to individuals. Study 1 (n = 44) reveals that students prefer to seek employment in a moral rather than a competent organization, when forced to choose between these organizational features on a bipolar scale. Study 2 (n = 100) replicates these findings in a design where the competence and morality of a fictitious organization were manipulated orthogonally. Study 3 (n = 89) examines responses to experimental task teams that systematically differed from each other in their competence and morality. Results of all three studies converge to demonstrate that the perceived morality of the team or organization has a greater impact on its attractiveness to individuals than its perceived competence. The authors discuss the theoretical and practical implications of these findings.
British Journal of Management: an international forum advancing theory and research
Department of Media and Communication

van Prooijen, A., & Ellemers, N. (2015). Does it pay to be moral? How indicators of morality and competence enhance organizational and work team attractiveness. British Journal of Management: an international forum advancing theory and research, 26, 225–236. Retrieved from