A management perspective on business ethics

Journal of Business Ethics 14 (8):603 - 611 (1995)
In recent years the institutionalisation of ethics as a means of enhancing the ethical nature of business operations has received widespread empirical coverage. To date, however, few studies have been conducted in the Australian business context. This paper examines the institutionalisation of ethics by a sample of companies based in Perth, Western Australia. In particular, company representatives were asked if their company was institutionalising ethics, why this initiative was undertaken, how this was taking place and what specific issues were being addressed in the institutionalisation process. The results suggest that perceptions of external parties were the primary motivation for ethics institutionalisation efforts although there was also considerable focus on trying to internalise ethical values. In terms of how ethics were being institutionalised the responding companies were more likely to have conducted ethics training programs than to have written Codes of Conduct and in general it appears that few companies were developing comprehensive formal ethics programs. The primary issue covered by these institutionalisation efforts was the observance of laws.
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