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IACMR Research Seminar Series Session #2

SpeakerProf. Xiao-Ping Chen (University of Washington)

TitleMoral Consistency or Moral Licensing? The Conceptualization of Moral Elasticity Quotient and a Preliminary Test
Time9:00- 10:15 am (China time)
Date: July 22, 2020
Language: English



Applying the adaptation-level theory (Helson, 1964) in the context of moral decision making, we propose and formulate a moral elasticity quotient (MEQ) and articulate how it regulates people’s morally consistent and inconsistent (licensing) behaviors. Underpinning this quotient is how people engage in a psychological process in which they compare the moral significance of past good deeds to their moral ideal standard. When the moral significance of past good deeds is inferior to moral ideal standard (MEQ <1), people will continue doing good deeds, whereas when MEQ >1, they will feel licensed to engage in morally questionable behaviors. Furthermore, ethical leadership creates an ambient social context for people to adapt to in a way that it will moderate the relationship between one’s MEQ level and subsequent moral behaviors. Results from three studies with diverse methodologies provide consistent evidence for our theoretical model. We discuss the theoretical and practical implications of our findings in organizational settings.



Dr. Xiao-Ping Chen ( is Philip M. Condit Endowed Chair Professor in the Michael G. Foster School of Business, University of Washington. She is an elected Fellow in Academy of Management (AOM), American Psychological Association (APA), and Society for Industrial and Organizational Psychology (SIOP). Professor Chen has served as Editor-in-Chief for Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes (2010-2016) and is currently the Editor-in-Chief for Management Insights, a bilingual (Chinese and English) magazine for business educators and practitioners. She received her Ph.D. from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Professor Chen’s research interests include cooperation and competition in social dilemmas, teamwork and leadership, entrepreneur passion, Chinese guanxi, and cross-cultural communication and management.  Professor Chen has published more than 30 research papers in top-tier journals such as Academy of Management Review, Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Applied Psychology, Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, Management Science, and Journal of International Business Studies. She was a faculty previously at Indiana University and Hong Kong University of Science and Technology.  She was also a distinguished visiting professor at University of Cambridge, Fudan University, Peking University, Kobe University, Indian School of Business, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong Baptist University, Nanyang Technological University, and China Europe International Business School.


Professor Chen is highly involved in Chinese management research and business community. She served as President for International Association for Chinese Management Research (IACMR). She has organized numerous research methods workshops, professional development workshops, and panel discussions for IACMR. She has published one English book entitled Leadership of Chinese Private Enterprises: Insights and Interviews, and ten Chinese books so far, among which the Empirical Methods in Organization and Management Research book has been the best seller in China since 2008.  As the editor of Management Insights, she has conducted in-depth interviews with distinguished CEOs and founders of Chinese companies such as Liu Chuanzhi of Lenovo, Jack Ma of Alibaba, Pony Ma of Tencent, Wang Shi of Vanke, Ma Weihua of China Merchant Bank, Michael Yu of New Oriental Group, Richard Liu of JD.Com and so on.


Professor Chen is the recipient of numerous teaching and research awards, including Scholarly Impact Award by Journal of Management (2019), Best Paper of Chinese Management Research by Peking University Press (2018), Dean’s Leadership Award (2017), Distinguished Scholarly Contribution Award by IACMR (2016), Andrew Smith Faculty Development Award, Outstanding University of Washington Woman Award, Outstanding Ph.D. Mentor Award, Dean’s International Research Award, and Charles E. Summer Teaching Award.