Comparative perspectives on the ethical orientations of human resources, marketing and finance functional managers

Journal of Business Ethics 56 (3):275 - 288 (2005)
The human resources profession emphasizes the personal and interpersonal aspects of work, that make it conscious of complex ethical issues in relationships in the workplace, while finance specialists are conversant with routine compliance with regulations. Marketing professionals are under pressure to produce revenue results. Thus, this research hypothesized that human resources managers would be more disapproving of unethical conduct than both finance and marketing functional managers, and that finance managers would be more disapproving than marketing managers. When asked to evaluate instances of unethical behavior in vignettes, human resources and finance managers were both significantly more disapproving than marketing managers. However, human resources managers were not significantly more disapproving than finance managers. Explanations for the results lie in the divergent antecedent conditions, objectives, perceptions of ethical problems and demands of the various functions. Alternative behavior patterns to resolve ethical dilemmas and expected consequences by the different functions also define their ethical orientations. Average responses on the disapproving side from all three functional groups are explained by two complementary trends that promote ethical awareness among all functional managers. One is the adoption of homogeneous conventions in ethical business practice. The other trend is the increase in ethical awareness specific to each of the functional professions.
Keywords Ethical dilemma resolution  ethical evaluation  functional management  human resources management  marketing management  finance management
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