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Today, the issue of ethics in organizations is an interesting topic to be discussed especially for the issue of unethical or deviant behavior. Therefore, this issue becomes a major concern in an organization and business field. Unethical or deviant behavior will produce a negative implication on individuals, groups, and organization in which it encourages practitioners and academicians to give more attention to the ethical management (Brown et al., 2005). Deviant behavior has a negative influence on an organization as stated by some researchers; unethical behavior seems to have a further impact on the evasion of customers (Babin et al., 2000; Gilbert, 2003). Thomas et al. (2004) explained that unethical behavior will increase the financial risks and costs as well as decrease the value of the company which in turn will lower the return to the stakeholders. On the other hand, Henle (2005) in his research believed that unethical or deviant behavior has influenced the decrease of productivity and performance in an organization. In the long-term period, negative implications caused by this behavior will affect the competitive strength of the organization. This also affected the performance of the individual significantly and negatively (Muafi, 2011). Moreover, there is a surcharge that came up due to the negative effect on performance and productivity (Dunlop and Lee, 2004). Low quality of work, lost working time, high legal and health costs as well as the negative effect on public perception (Litzky et al., 2006).
The results of this study indicate that ethical leadership, either directly or indirectly, has affected deviant behavior in the workplace. Increasingly, leader’s ethical behavior could reduce deviant behavior. In this case, ethical leadership is a manifestation of honesty and credibility, concern, doing the right thing, openness of communication, personal life based on morality standards, being fair in decision making, values and ethics communicating, punishment and reward application, ethics, role modeling.
Reducing deviant behavior in the workplace can be done by realizing an ethical climate formed through conditions that prioritize the interests of the organization rather than personal interests as well as by holding and implementing ethical principles in the organization. By increasing organizational commitment, employee who are loyal and have a psychological bond on the organization are likely to have higher commitment so that the possibility of their deviant behavior is low.
Ethical leadership has not been strong enough to make a real contribution to the improvement of organizational commitment. Organizational commitment does not play a role in mediating the influence of ethical leadership on deviant behavior because ethical leadership has no significant effect on organizational commitment. Nevertheless, we found that organizational commitment has significant influence on deviant behavior in the workplace.