Locus of control and the moral reasoning of managers

Journal of Business Ethics 58 (1-3):65 - 77 (2005)
Rotter’s theory of internal-external locus of control evolved from Carl Jung’s work. In Psychological Types (1923), Jung defined two opposing tendencies in personality introversion and extroversion. While both tendencies are present in all individuals, one tends to dominate the other. The internal–external control construct was conceived as a generalized expectancy to perceive reinforcement either as contingent upon one’s own behaviors (internal control) or as the result of forces beyond one’s control, such as chance, fate, or powerful others (external control) (Lefcourt, 1981, p. 15). Locus of control refers to those causes to which individuals attribute their successes and failures. Individuals are responsive to some external motivators (e.g. better jobs, promotions, higher salaries), but the more powerful are internal pressures (the desire for increased job satisfaction, self-esteem, and quality of life). Research indicates that an individual’s internal–external locus of control impacts their ethical behavior in an organization. Rotter’s I–E Scale (1966, Psychological Monographics 80(1), 1–28), a 29 item forced choice instrument, is the most widely used instrument to measure the degree of internality versus externality. Each respondent’s score for this scale had a potential range from 0 to 23. As there are six filler items used to mask the intent of the questionnaire a score of 23 being extremely external in nature and a score of zero being extremely internal in nature. The I Scale (Internal Scale) measures the extent to which people believe that they have control over their own lives; the E Scale (External Scale) measures the extent to which people believe that they do not have control over their own lives. This study utilized the I–E Scale. Jones (Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation) and Deflumeri (Unpublished Doctoral Dissertation) investigated the likelihood of an individual to engage in unethical behavior in an organization. This research suggests that when employees perceive that locus of control resides internally they themselves decide what is appropriate behavior, but with an external locus of control, employees will look at others to decide appropriate behavior. The researcher in this study investigated the relationship between managers’ locus of control and their moral reasoning.
Keywords Moral reasoning  locus of control
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C. G. Jung & H. Godwin Baynes (1923). Psychological Types. Journal of Philosophy 20 (23):636-640.

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