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EFFORT-REWARD IMBALANCE AND ATTITUDE TOWARDS

UNETHICAL WORK BEHAVIOUR AMONG POLICE


PERSONNEL: EMOTIONAL INTELLIGENCE AS A MODERATOR
Oluyinka Ojedokun (Ph.D)*
Department of Sociology, Psychology & Environmental
Management,
Lead City University, Ibadan, Nigeria

Emotional intelligence is a trainable skill capable of


discouraging unethical work attitude among Nigeria
police personnel by imparting on the perception of
effort-reward imbalance. However, exploration of
the moderating effect of emotional intelligence on the
relationship between effort-reward imbalance and
attitude towards unethical work behaviour has been
absent from literature. Therefore, this research
examined how emotional intelligence moderates the
relationship between effort-reward imbalance and
attitude towards unethical work behaviour among a
sample of police personnel in Nigeria. The study is a
survey adopting an Ex-post facto research design to
collect data from two hundred and twenty-five
(n=225) police personnel at Ogun State Police
Command Headquarters, Eleweran, Abeokuta. A
questionnaire measuring effort-reward imbalance,
emotional intelligence, attitude towards unethical
work behaviour and demographic variables was the
instrument for data collection. Hypothesis was
tested using moderated hierarchical regression.
Results revealed that effort-reward imbalance and
emotional intelligence were significant predictors of
attitude
towards unethical
work behaviour
(F=18.42; P<.001, R2=.35), explaining forty-seven
percent (35%) of the variance in attitude towards
unethical work behaviour.
The independent
predictions showed that effort-reward imbalance (
=.22; t= 2.21; p< .01) and emotional intelligence (
=-.29; t= -2.10; p< .01) contributed significantly to
variance in attitude towards unethical work
behaviour. Lastly, the interaction term between
effort-reward imbalance and emotional intelligence
*

E-mail: yinkaoje2004@yahoo.com, (234-0805-6325-953)

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on attitude towards unethical work behaviour


yielded significant equation (F=12.24; p<.001,
R2=.46; R2change=.11). Conclusively, effort-reward
imbalance and emotional intelligence measures
independently and interactively influence attitude
towards unethical work behaviour among police
personnel and suggests that inclusion of emotional
training modules in the training and development of
police personnel would create ethical work
workplaces devoid of favourable attitude towards
unethical work behaviour.

Key words: Attitude towards unethical work


behaviour, Effort-reward imbalance, Emotional
intelligence
Organisation researchers often stress the pivotal roles that
work attitude and behaviour of personnel play in the well-being,
acceptance and image of organizations. This is because exhibition
of negative work attitude and behaviour by employees may
undermine organisational integrity, tainting reputation, causing
mistrust and hampering organization/community relations. It
may also damage the reputations of good and hardworking
members of the organisation or calling into question the
behaviour of the entire members of the organization. It may also
reduce productivity or arouse feeling of quitting among personnel
who feel nauseated by negative attitude and work behaviour of
their colleagues.
In Nigeria, it would be an aberration for police personnel
to exhibit work attitude and behaviour that undermine the
integrity of the police organisation. This is because they are civil
servants; who act on behalf of, and in favour of citizens using the
resources provided by the community (Lumijrvi & Vesterinen,
2006). With this implicit understanding, the Nigerian public
expected police personnel as law enforcement agents and an arm
of criminal justice system to project unfavourable disposition
towards unethical work behaviour, provide services with a
benevolent and caring attitude.
This expectation informs the regulation of police
personnels work attitude and behaviour through Police Act
(CAP 359) of 1943, which makes provision for the organization,
discipline, powers, and duties of the police, the special
constabulary and the traffic wardens. The force also has codes
of conduct embedded in the act as a method of controlling the

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deleterious effects of personnel misconduct, unethical or


dysfunctional work behaviour in the organization. This act
implies maintenance of codes of ethics and police norms by every
police personnel. Unethical work behaviour is any behaviour that
brings harm to, and that is either illegal or morally unacceptable
to the larger community (Jones, 1991). This may include lying,
cheating, stealing or interpersonal aggression (Aquinas & Reed,
2002). Police personnel engages in unethical behaviour by taking
bribery, falsification or wiping out of proofs, favouritism,
nepotism, abuse of duty, use of violence or torture (Newborn,
1999).
With reference to Regulation 370 of the Nigeria Police Act
(CAP 359), unethical work behaviour include absence from duty,
late for duty without leave or reasonable excuse, breach of
confidence, corrupt practice, damage to clothing or other articles
supplied to the personnel, discreditable conduct, disobedience to
orders. Others include drunkenness, drinking, soliciting for
drink, and selling, storing or distributing liquor while on duty or
keeping a house for sale of liquor or directly or indirectly
interested in such house. Falsehood, insubordinate or oppressive
conduct, malingering; neglect of duty, improper conduct; shabbily
dressing and unlawful or unnecessary exercise of authority also
constitute unethical work behaviour. In summary, Regulation
370 is a pledge made by each police personnel during enlistment
and training to discharge fundamental law enforcement duties to
the best of individuals ability, conduct personal affairs in order to
bring credit to police organization, and enforce the law
impartially.
Disciplinary actions that accompany unethical behaviour
of police personnel are in proportion to the offence committed and
vary based on the rank of police personnel. They range from the
discipline prescribed by chapter 4 of General Orders for Officers
holding offices in the civil service of the federation (Nigeria),
dismissal, reduction in rank, withholding or deferment of
increment, reprimand, fine, confinement to barracks, fatigues or
other duties or punishment drill (Police Act, Part XVI). More
severe disciplinary action is likely when personnel misconduct
produces more costly effects or battered image for the force (Police
Act, Part XVI). The aim of this disciplinary strategy is to create
awareness among members of the police that violation of the
rules and regulations governing their conduct brings negative
consequences upon the perpetrators; the costs of which outweigh
the benefits.
Despite these heavy ethical demands placed on the work
of police personnel and expressed in Police Act, the official Holy
Book of members of Nigeria police; attitude towards unethical
behaviour of some police personnel in Nigeria is a departure from
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these norms. For example, Adebayo (2005) noted that the quality
of services rendered at present by the Nigeria police does not
measure up to expectation. He also stressed that, unethical work
behaviour of police personnel manifests in high level of insecurity
occasioned by rampant cases of armed robbery, gruesome
murder, assassinations and poor response rate to distress calls
from victims of violent crimes in Nigeria. In other words, a
significant numbers of police personnel continue to undermine
the integrity of the Nigeria police, despite the fact that they sworn
to an oath that they would be of good behaviour when being
enlisted. This specifically manifests when they meet members of
the public. This police-citizens contacts often result in alleged
police brutalities, improper arrests, high level corruption,
unjustifiable use of firearms, improper pulling over of vehicles,
and extortion of money from motorists in major cities and on high
ways.
Complying and abiding with professional ethical norms
may depend on individuals attitudes toward these ethical norms.
Attitude is a cluster of beliefs, feelings, and behavioural
intentions toward an object (Eagly & Chicken, 1993). Thus,
whether police personnel conduct themselves in an ethical way or
casting doubt/aspersion upon these ethical norms or even reject
them entirely may depend on their attitudes toward these ethical
norms. If this is then the case, the questions now arise: Why
would police personnel have favourably disposition towards
unethical work behaviour despite the negative consequences of
doing so?
According to the literature, reasons why some individual
have positive or negative attitude towards unethical work
behaviour may relate to a variety of factors, including emotional
intelligence, self-regulation (Ojedokun, 2008), age, gender,
educational qualification (Adebayo, 2005).
However, this study focuses on police personnels
perception of effort-reward imbalance (ERI). In Nigeria, the nature
of police duties and work environment provide justification for
studying influence of effort-reward imbalance on the attitude
towards unethical behaviour among police personnel. Interaction
of the researcher with some police personnel revealed that a
growing number of them, having work with the police institution
for some time get the feeling that they are not being adequately
remunerated, considering efforts put into their daily work. In
psychological literature, this phenomenon is called effort-reward
imbalance. This feeling may trigger negative reactions toward the
citizens they police; the police institution, and what it stands for
(e.g. police ethical law, guide or codes of conduct). Police
personnels perception of effort-reward imbalance could also

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emanate from understaffing, budgetary restrictions, higher


workloads and working with obsolete equipment.
According to Siegrist (1986), the ERI model highlights the
idea of a reciprocal exchange between efforts (psychological and
physical demands at work) and rewards (salary, esteem, and job
security). Siegrist (2002) posited that when psychological
contracts are ambiguously defined, labour market is tight, future
gains are expected, and employees are over committed to job
demands, then high effort-low reward-conditions are maintained.
Theoretically, the relationship between an employee and the
organisation suggests a social exchange, characterized by mutual
cooperative investments where employees efforts are recompense
by the organisation with appropriate rewards. Strong negative
emotions and sustained dysfunctional organisation attitudes and
behaviours could be associated with violations of the principle of
reciprocity. In other words, it is a possibility that perception of
imbalance between high efforts spent and low rewards received
from police institution is likely to elicit recurrent negative
emotions and sustained favourable disposition towards unethical
work behaviour. Conversely, positive emotions evoked by
appropriate social rewards may promote well-being, health and
positive work attitudes and behaviours.
The model of effort-reward imbalance developed by
Siegrist (1986, 1996), Siegrist, Peter, Junge, Cremer, and Seidel
(1990), posits that individual perception of an imbalance between
high efforts and low rewards (in terms of salary, promotion
prospects, appreciation and respect, and job security) increases
negative reactions. Apply to the work organisation, this suggests
that there should be a balance between an employees input
(effort) and the outcome (reward) he or she receives to decrease
negative reaction. Adams (1965) equity theory summarizes
individuals reactions or responses to perception of effort-reward
imbalance in work organizations. The theory hinges on the inputs
(efforts) that organisation members contribute into social
exchange relationship and the outcomes (rewards) derivable from
such relationship. Inputs (efforts) represent investments in the
exchange relationship for which a worker expects some reciprocal
return (rewards). Therefore, if an individual perceives an
imbalance between efforts and the rewards accrue to the efforts,
cognitively, this would create tension or dissonance within the
individual (Festinger, 1957), the tension that arose from
perception of effort-reward imbalance would motivate the
individual to reduce it. This is because a state of imbalance in the
individuals cognition is not comfortable.
Adams (1965) provided three alternatives to restore
balance, which are reduction of the individuals effort, increasing
the individuals reward, and if these alternatives are not
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achievable, quitting the job to escape the situation of imbalance.


However, due to unemployment and economic situations in
Nigeria, reducing the individuals input and quitting the job are
not feasible alternatives, therefore, the individual may stay on
with the job and devise personal method of increasing job
rewards, this could be through being unethical.
It plausible to posit that attitude towards unethical work
behaviour among police personnel is related to perception of
effort-reward imbalance (that is, how well effort meet or exceed
outcome/expectations). For instance, if a police officer perceives
that he/she is putting more effort (performing harder) at policing
tasks or beats but receiving fewer rewards or rewards receives are
not commensurate with the effort directed at performance. This
perception may trigger negative reactions, such as, intent to leave
the organization, low organizational commitment, neglect of
organizational responsibilities, sabotaging of organizational
image, and favourable disposition towards unethical work
behaviour. However, if the individual perceives a balance between
effort directed at police job performance and the rewards receives,
the individual is likely to have negative attitude towards unethical
work behaviour.
In addition, individual traits such as emotional
intelligence may correlate with attitude towards unethical work
behaviour. Trait emotional intelligence describes a generalized
tendency to utilize skills in empathy, cooperation, consensus
buildings, understanding self and others feelings, controlling
impulse and delaying gratification, regulating mood, empathizing
and hoping, and maintaining a positive attitude in the face of
setbacks (Goleman, 1998). This definition suggests that a police
officer with high emotional intelligence may feel angry and
frustrated by conduct of a complainant or an offender, but would
calm him/her self down, by not saying nasty words. The
importance of emotional intelligence in mitigating against
negative work behaviour and attitude was elucidated by Gibson
and Barsade (1999) who posited that, people who are not tolerant
and who cannot read other peoples cues well, no matter how
talented or intelligent they might be, are not good candidates for
workplace success.
Furthermore, emotional intelligence can moderate the
direct impact of perception of effort-reward imbalance on attitude
towards unethical work behaviour. This is because emotional
intelligence consists of a broad range of enhanced social skills
and abilities that can motivate positive outcomes and behaviours.
It can also assist individuals to manage negative experiences and
reactions at work. Therefore, it is tenable to posit that individuals
with high emotional intelligence rather than individuals with low
emotional intelligence are better fortified to deal with effort142

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reward imbalance in order to mitigate its affective and behavioral


implications (such as, unethical work behaviour).
This assumption stemmed from Schneider (1987), personorganisation fit model that proposed congruence between
patterns of organisational values and patterns of individual
values. Such congruence in values or lack of it has important
implication for employees attitude and behaviour within an
organisational context. PE fit theory originated from Lewins
Field theory (1951). The P and E variables comprise the
psychological environment in which an individual appraises the
situation at any point in time. The person (e.g. emotional
intelligence) and the environment (effort-reward imbalance)
interact to have an effect on each other, the relationship is
dynamic, and it is generally held that good fit will have positive
consequences and vice versa for both the individual and the
organisation.
For instance, effective policing is more than physical
appearance and training, it also entails interactions with
members of the community, expressing appropriate emotions as
the situation dictates, managing self and others emotions,
making crucial decisions during emergencies about self and
others without making recourse to police authority always, and
handling firearms with competency and maturity. Therefore,
even, if a police personnel characteristically perceives that effort
directed at policing exceeds rewards receive, the need to display
appropriate emotion as part of police duties and managing
community members emotions could translate into more effective
policing, such as being more ethical. The fact that some police
personnel are academically intelligent may not prevent them from
been unethical. Thus, training of emotional intelligence is
important, if Nigeria police personnel are to be more ethical.
Although, emotional intelligence has been implicated on
work perception, work attitudes and attitude towards unethical
work behaviour (e.g., Ojedokun, 2008; McShane & VonGlinow,
2000), its moderating effect on the relationship between effortreward imbalance and attitude towards unethical work behaviour
has received little empirical attention in Nigeria. Yet trait
emotional intelligence could have important effect on their
association. Essentially, considering these powerful submissions,
the question of how much does effort-reward imbalance
contributes to the prediction of attitude towards unethical work
behaviour and the moderating role of emotional intelligence on
the relationship between effort-reward imbalance and attitude
towards unethical work behaviour among police personnel in
Nigeria becomes important.
Essentially, the foregoing generates these research
questions: Why do some police personnel have favourably attitude
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towards unethical work behaviour and others do not. Would


emotional intelligence moderate the direct effect of effort-reward
imbalance on attitude towards unethical work behaviour?
Implication of the outcome of this study for training and
assessment of police recruits level of trait emotional intelligence
during and after recruitment exercises is a major contribution of
this study.
Perception of injustice (effort-reward imbalance) is
associated with deviant behaviours such as employee retaliation
behaviour,
theft,
dysfunctional
organization
behaviours,
counterproductive work behaviour and vandalism (Aquino, Lewis,
& Bradfield, 1999; Skarlicki & Folger, 1997). According to
Sommers, Schell, and Vodanovich (2002), perceptions of
employees that those in power in an organization have been
treating them unfairly may resort to indirect and covert forms of
retaliation. Similarly, Hollinger and Clark (1983) reported that
when employees felt exploited by the organization, they were more
likely to engage in acts against the organization, such as theft, as
a mechanism to correct perceptions of injustice. Similarly,
Greenberg and Scott (1996) reported that employee theft was a
reaction to underpayment inequity. These findings are consistent
with the Adams (1965) theory of inequity regarding dysfunctional
work attitude and behaviours as outcomes of imbalance social
exchange relationship. That is, a relationship participant who
perceives inequity, whether or not it exists objectively, would be
motivated to ameliorate it.
Literature review also suggests relationship between
personality factors and attitude towards unethical work
behaviour. For instance, Kreitner, Kinicki, and Beulens (2002)
posited that a combination of personality characteristics, values,
and moral principles influence ethical work behaviour. Moreover,
anger, negativity affectivity (Douglas & Martinko, 2001;
Domagalski & Steelman, 2004; Hepworth & Towler, 2004), self
control (Douglas & Martinko, 2001; Marcus & Schuler, 2004),
emotional stability (Colbert, Mount, Harter, Witt, & Barrick, 2004;
Salgado, 2002), narcissism (Penney & Spector, 2002),
agreeableness (Skarlicki, Folger, & Tesluk, 1999), self esteem
(Harvey & Keashley, 2003), and trait anxiety (Fox & Spector,
1999) have all been linked to unethical work behaviour.
Emotional intelligence is considered an important antecedent for
organisational factors such as perception of occupational stress
(Oginska-Bulik, 2005).
Based on the literature review, this study proposes that:
attitude towards unethical work behaviour is significantly related
to effort-reward imbalance and emotional intelligence; and
emotional intelligence would significantly moderate the
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relationship between effort-reward imbalance and attitudes


toward unethical work behaviour.
METHOD
Research Design: The study adopted ex post facto survey
research design. The researcher considered this research design
as appropriate because of the limitation in actively manipulates
variables under consideration in the study. The independent
variable is effort-reward imbalance; the moderator variable is
emotional intelligence, while the dependent variable is attitude
towards unethical behaviour.
Participants: The study was conducted using a total of two
hundred and twenty five (n=225) members of the Nigeria Police
personnel randomly selected among police personnel at the
Command Headquarters of Nigerian Police at a State in the
South-Western region of Nigeria. They comprised of males
161(72%) and 64 females (28 %). Their ages ranged from 20 to 56
years with a mean of 34.34 years and SD of 7.92. Also, 84 (37%)
of the participants were single, 141(63%) were married. Their
number of years of formal education ranged from 16 to 23 years
with a mean of 14.54 years and SD of 4.57. Regarding their
religious affiliation, 104(49.5%) were Christians, 109(49.5%) were
Muslims and the remaining 12(1%) were Traditionalists. Their
working experience ranged from 1 to 28 years with a mean of
9.98 years and S.D of 9.34.
Instrument: The researcher adopted questionnaire method to
collect data on effort-reward imbalance, emotional intelligence
and attitude towards unethical work behaviour.
Effort-Reward Imbalance (ERI): Effort-reward imbalance, a
model used by Siegrist (1996) was assessed using the 17 item
shortened version of the 23-item effort-reward questionnaire
developed by Siegrist, Starke, Chandola, Godin, Marmot,
Niedhammer and Peter (2004). The response format is on a 5point Likert format of 1=does not apply, 2=does apply, but no
distress, 3=does apply and somewhat distressed, 4=does apply
and distressed, and 5=does apply and very distressed. Effort is
measured using six items related to psychologically and
physically demanding aspects of the work environment. High
scores indicate high efforts at work. Reward is assessed using
eleven items that cover rewards received at work and offered to
the worker as part of a social exchange process in the form of
monetary remuneration, social approval and esteem, job security,
and career opportunities. High scores indicate high reward and
low scores means low reward. The effort-reward ratio (measuring
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the actual imbalance) was calculated using effort/reward x


correction factor formula (factor correcting for the different
number of items of the two scales). The ratio of effort and reward
scores determines effort-reward imbalance, where a higher ratio
represents higher experience imbalance between effort and
reward. Siegrist et al (2004) reported Cronbach coefficient alpha
of 0.72, 0.85 for effort and reward respectively. An alpha
coefficient of 0.76 and 0.81 were obtained in this study.
Emotional Intelligence: This is measured using a 33-item
emotional intelligence scale (EIS) developed by Schutte et al,
(1998). The scale is responded to on a five-point Likert scale
ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree). Schutte et
al (1998) reported that EIS has demonstrated high internal
consistency with Cronbachs ranging from .87 to .90 and a twoweek test-retest reliability coefficient of .78. In this present
sample an overall co-efficient alpha of .64 with split half reliability
co-efficient of .62 were established.
Unethical Work Behaviour: This is measured using a 21 items
scale designed to tap attitudes toward corrupt behaviour, use of
unnecessary force or violence, accepting bribes as well as other
ethical violations developed by Hyams (1990). It has response
pattern in Likert type from 1 (Strongly Disagree) to 5 (Strongly
Agree). Items 3, 15, and 20 have reversed scores. The total score
obtainable on attitudes towards unethical work behaviour scale is
derivable from addition of the scores for each item. Possible
scores ranged from 21 to 105, high scores on scale reflect less
ethical attitudes. Krejei, Kvapil, and Smrad (1996) reported alpha
coefficient of .72 for the scale. However, Adebayo (2005) has
reported a coefficient alpha of .89 for the scale. In this study, the
researcher subjected items on the scale to item total correlation
analysis and the result ranged from .27 to .55. Items 3, 4, 15, 20
and 21 were not use for the final analysis because of low scores
(below r = .31) on the set norm. In other words, these items did
not contribute significantly to the total score on the scale. The
final value for the remaining items was .76.
Procedure: Data collection was through the administration of
three hundred questionnaires. Permission had been sought and
giving by the relevant police authority. Data collection was during
the monthly police commissioner parade. Police personnel were
randomly selected using odd and even number sampling method.
This involves giving numbers to police personnel on the parade
ground and after listed them, those with odd numbers return to
their various beats while those with even numbers participated in
the study. The researcher explained the purpose of the study to
the remaining police personnel with even numbers, and with the
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assistance of some unit heads, the researcher administered


instrument for data collection to the participants. The
questionnaires were administered under the condition of
anonymity. While some of the questionnaires were collected
immediately after completion, the researcher retrieved others
after two weeks. However, out of the three hundred
questionnaires administered only two hundred and twenty-five
(225) were adequately completed and returned and these were
consider
adequate
for
data
analysis.
The
completed
questionnaires were then scored, processed and analysed using
Statistical
Product
Services Solution
(SPSS)
Computer
programme.
RESULTS
Table 1 presents means, standard deviations and zeroorder correlations for the variables in this study.
Table 1: Correlation Matrix showing the Relationships among
Variables of the Study (n=225)
Variables
1. Effort-reward Imbalance
(ERI)
2. Emotional Intelligence (EI)
3. Unethical
(UWB)

Work

Beh.

Mea
n
20.6
9
28.8
4
41.6
5

SD

ERI

EI

4.07

6.60

-.10*

9.71

.28**

-.22**

UWB

*p<0.05, **p<0.01
Lastly, effort-reward imbalance is positively related to
attitude towards unethical work behaviour (r =.28; P< .01),
implying that police personnel who perceive high effort-reward
imbalance are more favourably disposed towards unethical work
behaviour. Similarly, emotional intelligence is inversely related to
attitude towards unethical work behaviour (r =-.22; p< .01),
showing that police personnel with low emotional intelligence are
more favourably disposed towards unethical work behaviour.
The hierarchical regression procedure Cohen and Cohen
(1983) was used to test the moderating effect of emotional
intelligence on the effort-reward imbalance-attitude towards
unethical work behaviour relationships. The hierarchical
regression constituted two successive steps/models. The first
model entered the effort-reward imbalance and emotional
intelligence to test for their independent and joint influences on
the outcome variable. The second model entered the crossproduct term of the two predictors in order to test the significance
of interaction term. The result is presented Table 2.

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Table 2: Moderated Hierarchical Regression Analysis Showing


the Effect of Emotional Intelligence on the Relationship
between Effort-Reward Imbalance and Attitude towards
Unethical Work Behaviour
Model 1: Predictors
Effort-Reward Imbalance (EI)
Emotional intelligence
F=18.44***
Model 3: Interaction term
ERI x EI

R2
.35

.46

R2
.35

0.22
0.29

2.21**
-2.10

0.36

4.6***

.11***

F=12.24
**p<0.01, ***p<0.001
Regressing attitude towards unethical work behaviour on
effort-reward imbalance and emotional intelligence yielded a
significant joint prediction (F=18.42; P<.001, R 2=.35), indicating
that the change in attitude towards unethical work behaviour is
explained by 35% resulting from changes in the variables. This
confirms the significant joint prediction of attitude towards
unethical work behaviour by effort-reward imbalance and
emotional intelligence. The partial regression indicated that effortreward imbalance ( =.22; t= 2.21; p< .01) contributed
significantly to variance in attitude towards unethical work
behaviour. This means that police personnel who perceive high
effort-reward imbalance reported being less ethical. In addition,
partial regression revealed that emotional intelligence ( =-.29; t=
-2.10; p< .01) contributed significantly to variance in attitude
towards unethical work behaviour. This suggests that when level
of police personnel emotional intelligence increases, attitude
towards unethical work behaviour is likely to be less favourable.
The significant results obtained in model one suggested
and interaction between effort-reward imbalance and emotional
intelligence. The cross product of effort-reward imbalance and
emotional intelligence on attitude towards unethical work
behaviour was entered in model two and it yielded a significant
equation (F=12.24; p<.001, R2=.46; R2change=.11). That is,
emotional intelligence and effort-reward imbalance interacted to
influence attitude towards unethical work behaviour.
Discussion
Findings revealed that effort-reward imbalance contributed
significantly to variance in attitude towards unethical work
behaviour. According to Adams (1965) theory of inequity,
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participant who perceives effort-reward imbalance (inequity),


whether or not it exists objectively, would be motivated to
ameliorate it using several alternatives, which may include
dysfunctional work attitude and behaviours. This means that the
finding of this study has further validated Adams equity theory.
This finding is closely related to those of Aquino, Lewis, and
Bradfield (1999), Skarlicki and Folger (1997), which reported that
perception of injustice (effort-reward imbalance) is associated
with deviant behaviours such as employee retaliation behaviour,
theft, dysfunctional organization behaviours, counterproductive
work behaviour and vandalism. This finding is also consistent
with those of Sommers, Schell, and Vodanovich (2002), who
report that when employees perceive that organizational
management treat them unfairly, the perception may motivate
and resort to indirect and covert forms of retaliation. Similarly,
Hollinger and Clark (1983) reported that when employees felt
exploited by the organization, they were more likely to engage in
acts against the organization, such as theft, as a mechanism to
correct perceptions of injustice. Similarly, Greenberg and Scott
(1996) reported that employee theft was a reaction to
underpayment inequity.
Findings also revealed that emotional intelligence
contributed significantly to variance in attitude towards unethical
work behaviour. This finding means that emotional intelligence is
a significant variable in explaining attitude towards unethical
work behaviour. This finding is in conformity with the literature
findings (Kreitner et al., 2002; Domagalski & Steelman, 2004;
Douglas & Martinko, 2001; Hepworth & Towler, 2004; Marcus &
Schuler, 2004) who found linkages between personality traits,
values, moral principles and work behaviour.
Lastly,
findings
revealed
significantly,
emotional
intelligence moderated the impact of effort-reward imbalance on
attitude towards unethical work behaviour, so that high
emotional intelligence and not low emotional intelligence
mitigates the negative influence of high effort-reward imbalance
on attitude towards unethical work behaviour. This finding is in
line with Schneider (1987) person-organizational fit model, which
propose that the person (e.g. emotional intelligence) and the
environment (e.g. effort-reward imbalance) interact to have an
effect on employees attitude and behaviour within an
organisational context.
Recommendations and Implication of Findings
Effort-reward imbalance is positively related with attitude
towards unethical work behaviour. This finding has produced
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additional evidence that individuals who perceive imbalance


between efforts directed at work and organisational rewards may
be more prone to unethical work behaviour due to negative
emotional reaction to a state of inequity. This finding also
contributes to the inequity theory literature by its applicability in
a Nigeria public organization.
Emotional intelligence moderated the effect of effortreward imbalance on attitude towards unethical work behaviour.
This finding implies that emotional intelligence is a trait that is
trainable and can be learned (Goleman, 1998), thus, a deeper
understanding of emotional intelligence can aid its training
similar to other physical skills among police personnel in order to
discourage unethical work attitude.
Findings of this study have practical implications for
reviewing and updating of Nigeria Police Act and training
manuals, specifically in relations to recruitment, placement, and
training of police personnel. It is therefore, suggested that Nigeria
police authority need to include measure of emotional intelligence
as part of assessment tools during recruitment. Emotional
intelligence training should also form an important area of
concentration during training and development exercises of police
personnel.
Similar to other research, this study has certain
limitations. The first limitation is that measure of attitude
towards unethical work behaviour among police personnel was
assessed and not real or others rating of unethical work
behaviour. Thus, it is difficult to establish whether this attitude
led to actual unethical work behaviour or not. This concern needs
exploration in real life situations using a larger sample size with
expanded coverage. In addition, findings of this study are not
generalizable to other police commands or security agencies in
Nigeria because data collection was in one location. Examining
attitude towards unethical work behaviour among police
personnel and its psychological antecedents in other police
commands or security agencies in Nigeria fields in order to
validate the finding of this present study, and make comparisons
among different police commands should be given further
research attention.
Conclusion
With respect to predictors of attitude towards unethical
work behaviour, findings indicated that independently and
jointly, effort-reward imbalance and emotional intelligence are
important predictors of attitude towards unethical work
behaviour. Moreso, emotional intelligence significantly moderated
the effect of effort-reward imbalance on attitude towards
unethical work behaviour. Conclusively, effort-reward imbalance
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and emotional intelligence played significant roles in an


understanding of attitude towards unethical work behaviour
among police personnel. The key finding from this portion of the
study is that the influence of effort-reward imbalance on attitude
towards unethical work behaviour depended on whether a police
officer score high or low on emotional intelligence.

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