The Impact of Emotional Intelligence on the Ethical Judgment of Managers

Journal of Business Ethics 99 (S1):111-119 (2011)
In recent years there has been a substantial amount of research on emotional intelligence (EI) across a wide range of disciplines. Also, this term has been receiving increasing attention in the popular business press. This article extends previous research by seeking to determine whether there is a relationship between emotional intelligence and ethical judgment among practicing managers with respect to questions of ethical nature that can arise in their professional activity. It analyzes the results of a survey of 324 managers enrolled in executive MBA programs from five universities in the southeastern and northeastern United States. This study is based on a model presented by Forsyth showing two dimensions that play an important role in ethical evaluation and behavior. Respondents were classified into one of four groups according to their idealism and relativism levels—situationists, subjectivists, absolutists, and exceptionists. The four ideological group’s scores were compared. The results indicate significant differences between the situationists and absolutists on the one hand, and subjectivists and exceptionists on the other. The former’s emotional intelligence scores were significantly higher thus demonstrating a strong relationship between emotional intelligence and ethical ideology. The results raise important implications for practitioners and educators
Keywords Emotional intelligence  Business ethics  Idealism  Relativism  Situationists  Subjectivists  Absolutists  Exceptionists
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DOI 10.1007/s10551-011-1158-5
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