Special Issue: Behavioral Field Evidence on Ethics and Misconduct

Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes

Special Issue Editors:

Ian Larkin (UCLA)

Lamar Pierce (Washington University in St. Louis)

Shaul Shalvi (University of Amsterdam)

Ann Tenbrunsel (University of Notre Dame)

Submission Deadline: March 31, 2018

Aims and Scope

This special issue seeks papers that use field settings to explore factors explaining occurrences of dishonesty, cheating, and other forms of ethical misconduct. To date, the vast majority of empirical evidence on behavioral ethics involves either laboratory experiments or self-reported survey-based data (Pierce and Balasubramanian 2015). Since 2001, the top management, consumer behavior, and psychology journals have published over 200 laboratory-based papers on ethics, with countless other studies in related journals. In contrast, only 25 papers from these journals use behavioral field evidence. Although both laboratory and survey-based research have provided tremendous value in understanding human behavior involving dishonesty, cheating, and other types of misconduct, they each have fundamental weaknesses in provide accurate predictions of unethical behavior in organizational settings. This special issue seeks to complement existing literature by expanding the body of behavioral field evidence.

Defining “Behavioral Field Evidence”

The editors are primarily interested in empirical studies of individual behavior in organizations and other natural environments. The unit of analysis will typically be the individual, although more aggregate levels that can be linked to individual behavior are welcomed. The primary study will use data that are behavioral, not self-reported. The behavior will typically be “natural”—normal tasks that are not stylized experimental designs.

Types of Papers

Although we welcome any paper using behavioral field evidence, we are particularly interested in the following classes of papers:

  1. Natural field experiments: Randomized field experiments that examine common daily tasks (Greenberg 1990; Nagin et al. 2002; Jin and Kato 2006; Shu et al. 2012; Azar et al. 2013; Balafoutas et al. 2013).
  2. Audit or other observational studies: Data collection and analysis of misconduct and potential predictors and correlates (Prukner and Sausgruber 2013).
  3. Archival analysis: Regression and other quantitative methods of analyzing pre-existing data (Edelman and Larkin 2014; Aven 2015; Palmer and Yenkey 2015; Pierce et al. 2015; Yenkey 2017).
  4. Qualitative case studies: (Roy 1952; Mars 1974)

Mixed-methods papers are welcomed, such as stylized lab experiments or economic games conducted on traditional or non-traditional populations paired with additional field data. Similarly, survey-based evidence that supports the primary behavioral field evidence is welcomed, but papers that are primarily survey-based are unlikely to be accepted.

Authors can contact Lamar Pierce at pierce prior to submission with any questions of fit.

Evaluation Criteria

The following criteria will be used to evaluate the quality of the papers. We note that papers need not meet all or even most of these criteria, but authors should explicitly address them in explaining the paper’s contribution.

  1. Importance of problem and setting: Authors should emphasize why the question they examine is of key importance to either organizations or society.
  2. Uniqueness of contribution: How much does the paper expand our knowledge about a phenomenon, theory, or methodology? We note that the unique contribution can be purely empirical, replicating (or not replicating) an observed effect from laboratory or survey research in a natural field setting.
  3. Causal identification: How well does the paper establish that the independent variable causes the dependent variable?
  4. Identification of mechanisms: How well does the paper convince the reader of the economic, psychological, or social mechanisms that drive the behavior of interest?

Review Process

The editors are committed to providing authors with an efficient and fair review process. To achieve this, our goals are as follows:

  1. Consistent with the journal, to conduct a timely peer review of each paper under consideration and return initial decisions to authors as quickly as possible.
  2. For those papers for which we invite revisions, to detail a plan of action that would lead to conditional acceptance in one round.
  3. To not “move the goalposts” in the second round. If new issues are raised in the second round, to give the authors a fair opportunity to address them.
  4. To not submit our own papers to the special issue, so as to avoid potential conflict of interest (the editors will write a brief introductory piece for the special issue).


Manuscripts should be submitted online to the OBHDP via EVISE. Please ensure you select the correct special issue when submitting your paper. Please refer to the Guide for Authors before submission. Authors should indicate that the submission is for the special issue in the covering letter. Authors who are invited to revise their paper will be given a short but reasonable amount of time to revise their paper. We encourage supplemental materials where needed to provide the review team with the information necessary to evaluate whether the paper can be sufficiently revised in one round.

The EVISE portal will be open for submissions to this special issue from 1 December 2017 to 31 March 2018.


Aven, B. L. (2015). The paradox of corrupt networks: An analysis of organizational crime at Enron. Organization Science, 26(4), 980-996.

Azar, O. H., Yosef, S., & Bar-Eli, M. (2013). Do customers return excessive change in a restaurant?: A field experiment on dishonesty. Journal of Economic Behavior & Organization, 93, 219-226.

Balafoutas, L., Beck, A., Kerschbamer, R., & Sutter, M. (2013). What drives taxi drivers? A field experiment on fraud in a market for credence goods. The Review of Economic Studies, 80(3), 876-891.

Edelman, B., & Larkin, I. (2014). Social comparisons and deception across workplace hierarchies: Field and experimental evidence. Organization Science, 26(1), 78-98.

Greenberg, J. (1990). Employee theft as a reaction to underpayment inequity: The hidden cost of pay cuts. Journal of Applied Psychology, 75(5), 561.

Jin, G. Z., & Kato, A. (2006). Price, quality, and reputation: Evidence from an online field experiment. The RAND Journal of Economics, 37(4), 983-1005.

Mars, G. (1974). Dock pilferage: A case study in occupational theft. In P. Rock & M. McIntosh (Eds.), Deviance and social control (pp. 209-228). London: Tavistock Institute.

Nagin, D. S., Rebitzer, J. B., Sanders, S., & Taylor, L. J. (2002). Monitoring, motivation, and management: The determinants of opportunistic behavior in a field experiment. The American Economic Review, 92(4), 850-873.

Palmer D, Yenkey C: (2015) Drugs, sweat and gears: An organizational analysis of performance enhancing drug use in the 2010 Tour de France. Social Forces

Pierce, L., & Balasubramanian, P. (2015). Behavioral field evidence on psychological and social factors in dishonesty and misconduct. Current Opinion in Psychology, 6, 70-76.

Pierce L, Snow DC, McAfee A: (2015) Cleaning house: The impact of information technology monitoring on employee theft and productivity. Management Science 61:10: 2299-2319.

Pruckner GJ, Sausgruber R: (2013) Honesty on the streets: A field study on newspaper purchasing. Journal of the European Economic Association, 11:661-679.

Roy, D. (1952). Quota restriction and goldbricking in a machine shop. American journal of sociology, 57(5), 427-442.

Shu LL, Mazar N, Gino F, Ariely D, Bazerman MH: (2012) Signing at the beginning makes ethics salient and decreases dishonest self-reports in comparison to signing at the end. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109:15197–15200.

Yenkey, Christopher. (2017) Fraud and Market Participation: Social Relations as a Moderator of Organizational Misconduct,” Forthcoming at Administrative Science Quarterly.