College of Business > News & Events > Ethical Leadership and Civility Can Deter Retail Shrinkage, DePaul Research Finds
By Robin Florzak /
January 21, 2020 /
Posted in: Faculty, Research and Centers /
What can retail leaders do to help their workers successful navigate these pressures? Jensen examines this question in a study, “Predicting Retail Shrink from Performance Pressure, Ethical Leader Behavior, and Store-Level Incivility” published in the Journal of Organizational Behavior. The research was co-authored with Robert S. Rubin, professor of management at DePaul, and Michael S. Cole, assistant professor of management at Texas Christian University.
Focusing on the retail environment of approximately 110 stores, the study explores the impact of performance pressure and ethical leader behavior on uncivil behavior and shrinkage, an industry term for inventory loss caused by employee theft and customer shoplifting.
Three takeaways from the study’s findings include:
"Ethical leaders can help employees interpret performance expectations by signaling that it is not only important to meet performance expectations, but to do so in a way that maintains ethical principles – including treating others civilly or with respect,” Jensen adds. “Conversely, in stores where performance pressure is strong and ethical leadership is relatively low, employees lack strong signals from their store manager about how to ethically manage performance expectations. This can create interpersonal friction and tension amongst employees, and exacerbates uncivil behavior”
An uncivil environment erodes expectations to “do the right thing,” she says. “The result is that in these environments, employees may be more motivated to personally steal, as well as overlook shoplifting, the two primary sources of shrink.”