The effectiveness of corporate codes of ethics

Journal of Business Ethics 7 (5):389 - 395 (1988)
Abstract
While the focus on business ethics is increasing in business school curricula, there has been little systematic scholarly research on the forces which bring about ethical behavior. This article is intended as a first step toward that research by creating a catalogue of hypotheses concerning the efficacy of corporate codes of ethics. The hypotheses are drawn from studies of compliance with law and court decisions and theories of legitimacy, authority, public policy making and individual behavior. Hypotheses are proposed based on the structure of the organization, the source of the code of ethics within the organization, the content of the code, sanctions for noncompliance, protections for refusal to engage in unethical behavior, and rewards for compliance.
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