Most people must commute to and from work each day, yet little research has examined this critical time between home and work and the potential spillover effects of commuting on employees' subsequent workplace behavior. Drawing on self-regulation theory and the commuting stress literature, I propose that stressful driving conditions on the way to work (e.g., bad weather, traffic congestion, long routes) can cause employees to subsequently behave unethically at work. Specifically, I suggest this occurs through a depletion of self-regulation as resources are consumed while driving under stress and thus unavailable for deterring tempting, unethical behavior. I test this mediation model in two studies using an experimental-causal-chain design. In Study 1, using a sample of 204 participants recruited at a university, I manipulated commuting conditions in a driving simulator and measured self-regulatory depletion and dishonesty using behavioral tasks in the laboratory. In Study 2, using an online panel of 117 participants, I manipulated self-regulatory depletion and measured dishonesty using modified versions of the same behavioral tasks. Overall I find some support that driving—regardless of driving-induced stress level—depletes self-regulatory resources and that reduced self-regulation leads to a higher likelihood to engage in unethical behavior.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Business Administration
Business Administration; Management
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Campus-only Access)
Griffith, Matthew, "Driven to Dishonesty: The Effects of Commuting on Self-Regulatory Depletion and Unethical Behavior" (2017). Electronic Theses and Dissertations, 2004-2019. 5597.