How strong are the ethical preferences of senior business executives?

Journal of Business Ethics 56 (1):69 - 80 (2005)
How do senior business executives rank their preferences for various ethical principles? And how strongly do the executives believe in these principles? Also, how do these preference rankings relate to the way the executives see the future (wherein business decisions play out)? Research on these questions may provide us with an appreciation of the complexities of ethical behavior in management beyond the traditional issues concerning ethical decision-making in business. Based on a survey of 585 vice presidents of U.S. businesses it was found that: (1) there is a distinct set of principles of ethical conduct that is considered favorable as opposed to another set considered unfavorable among a comprehensive list of 14 ethical principles; (2) the executives believed overwhelmingly that their own individual ethical preferences are better than those of other executives; (3) the strength of their preferences for ethical principles is associated with whether the executives are relatively near-future oriented or more distant-future oriented; and (4), there are very few significant differences in terms of gender, age, education level, private/public education, prestigious/other schools, business/non-business academic backgrounds, and length of job experience. Implications of these findings are discussed.
Keywords senior business executives  ethical preferences  ethical valences  time  future orientations
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