The Effect of Ethical Signals on Recruitment Outcomes: Two Studies with Convergent Results



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The applicant decision making process is a complex one. During the recruitment process, signals from the organization provide information to the candidates and affect important recruitment outcomes. Ethics is one area the organization can utilize to communicate information regarding the organizational culture and environment. Drawing on signaling theory, this research suggests that ethical signals during the recruitment process affect recruitment outcomes through the mediating effect of the perception of the organization as ethical. Additionally, two important moderators, self-importance of moral identity and cognitive moral development, were examined. Using a study in the field as well as a rigorous laboratory study, this research found results generally consistent with the hypothesized relationships. Specifically, ethical organizational practices were related to attraction in both studies. Ethical recruitment practices were related to attraction in the laboratory study. Furthermore, the organizational practices/attraction relationship was partially mediated by the perception of the organization as ethical. Finally, some support was found for the cognitive moral development, self-importance of moral identity, and performance moderators. Practical implications and areas for future research are discussed.