The link between management behavior and ethical philosophy in the wake of the enron convictions

Journal of Business Ethics 85 (1):13 - 25 (2009)
The current linkages between ethical theory and management behavior are investigated in the wake of the much-publicized convictions of Enron executives. The vignettes used in this investigation represent ethical dilemmas in the areas of coercion and control, conflict of interest, physical environment, and personal integrity. Since 2003, and after the successful prosecution of Enron executives, the link between ethical philosophy and management behavior has shifted somewhat dramatically. There has been a significant change in the rational basis for managerial decision making. In 2003, even after the Enron scandal was publicized, practitioners still relied heavily on both act and rule utilitarian ethical philosophies when making business decisions. Currently, the majority of respondents are likely to select ethically appropriate actions based on either rule utilitarian or rights rationales. It appears that ethical behavior is now more in line with ethical rhetoric, which may positively impact the ethical climate of business decision making. Apparently, business scandals of the past did not really impact actual ethical behavior much, but the high-profile prosecutions, convictions, and jail sentences may have impressed on managers that now is the time to incorporate ethics into business decisions.
Keywords ethics  scandals  philosophy  Enron
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John Rawls (1971). A Theory of Justice. Harvard University Press.

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