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Just doing business: Modern racism and obedience to authority as explanations for employment discrimination
Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes
In two experiments, we investigated the effects of prejudice (in the form of modem, racism) and business justifications by authority figures (i.e., organizational superiors) to discriminate against minorities (Blacks in our research) in hiring situations. As expected, business justifications by legitimate authority figures led to participants' obedience in the form of discrimination relative to a no-justification condition and, in the second experiment, also relative to a condition in which the business justification came from an illegitimate authority figure. Moreover, in both experiments, as expected, modern racism did not have a main effect on discrimination, but interacted with business justifications such that modern racism predicted discrimination when a legitimate authority figure provided a business-related justification for such discrimination but not in the absence of such a justification. These results are discussed in terms of their theoretical implications for understanding prejudice and obedience to authority in organizations and in terms of their practical implications for addressing the problem of discrimination in the workplace.
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