In the context of the work environment, differentiate between ‘coercion’ and ‘undue influence’ with suitable examples.


05:23 AM

The question In the context of the work environment, differentiate between ‘coercion’ and ‘undue influence’ with suitable examples." was asked in the Mains 2023 GS Paper 4. Let us look at the model answer to this question.

Answer: Coercion and undue influence addresses potential compromises in one party's consent to agree, affecting the integrity of the parties. In ethics these can be explained through different human relationships in the work environment.

Difference between coercion and undue influence



Undue Influence


External force exerted by someone with authority. For instance, a boss threatening to fire an employee if they don't accept a specific project.

Exerted within an existing relationship based on trust and confidence, like a senior colleague leveraging their friendship with a junior to get them to take on extra tasks.


Coercion is arbitrary, involves force or threats, and is illegal. For example, an employee might be physically barred from leaving a meeting until they sign a document.

Undue influence is subtle, revolves around psychological pressure, and is immoral. A scenario might involve a manager emotionally manipulating a team member by suggesting their job might be at risk.


Generally for a short duration, like a single high-pressure meeting where an employee is forced to agree to unfavorable terms.

Typically seen over a longer term, such as a supervisor subtly pressuring a subordinate over months to agree to tasks outside their role.


Overt and easily recognizable, such as direct threats of termination if an employee doesn’t comply.

Covert, more subtle, and can often go unnoticed, like continuous subtle hints about job security if certain "favors" aren't granted.


The aggrieved party must provide direct proof, such as recorded threats or witness testimonies.

The dominant party in the relationship often needs to prove their actions were just, like showing correspondence to demonstrate there was no undue pressure.

Both coercion and undue influence are immoral in nature. Hence the work environment should uphold the practices like persuasion, mutual respect, which are beneficial for better work culture.