Individual, social and organizational sources of sharing and variation in the ethical reasoning of managers

Journal of Business Ethics 42 (2):101 - 124 (2003)
Abstract
A growth in consumer and media ethical consciousness has resulted in the need for organizations to ensure that members understand, share and project an approved and unified set of ethics. Thus understanding which variables are related to sharing and variation of ethical reasoning and moral intent, and the relative strength of these variables is critical. While past research has examined individual (attitudes, values, etc.), social (peers, significant others, etc.) and organizational (codes of conduct, senior management, etc.) variables, it has focused on their influence on the individual – and not on their role in relation to patterns of group sharing and variation in an organization. Introduced as a new methodology to study ethics, microcultural analysis stipulates that to explain patterns of sharing and variation, one must understand how individual, social and organizational variables influence sharing and variation. Key hypotheses predict that managers who share in individual, social or organizational determinants will be more likely to share in ethical reasoning and moral intent. Qualitative and quantitative research supports the key hypotheses, finding social ties, personal moral intensity, Machiavellianism, locus of control and codes of ethics as significant determinants. Individuals who share in these determinants are more likely to share in ethical reasoning and moral intent. Additionally, regression analysis reveals social ties and personal moral intensity to be the strongest determinants. Based on these results, managerial recommendations focus on a holistic approach, manipulating these three determinants to cultivate a unified code of ethics within an organization.
Keywords ethical reasoning  individual determinants  moral intent  organizational determinants  regression  sharing  social determinants  variation
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