Emotion and ethical decision-making in organizations

Journal of Business Ethics 31 (2):175 - 187 (2001)
Abstract
While the influence of emotion on individuals'' ethical decisions has been identified by numerous researchers, little is known about how emotions influence individuals'' ethical decision process. Thus, it is not clear whether different emotions promote and/or discourage ethical decision-making in the workplace. To address this gap, this paper develops a model that illustrates how emotion affects the components of individuals'' ethical decision-making process. The model is developed by integrating research findings that consider the two dimensions of emotion, arousal and feeling state, into an applied cognitive-developmental perspective on the process of ethical decision-making. The model demonstrates that certain emotional states influence the individual''s propensity to identify ethical dilemmas, facilitate the formation of the individual''s prescriptive judgments at sophisticated levels of moral development, lead to ethical decision choices that are consistent with the individual''s prescriptive judgements, and promote the individual''s compliance with his or her ethical decision choices. In particular, the model suggests that individuals experiencing arousal and positive affect resolve ethical dilemmas in a manner consistent with more sophisticated cognitive moral structures. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.
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