Predictors of ethical code use and ethical tolerance in the public sector

Journal of Business Ethics 25 (3):237 - 253 (2000)
This paper reports the results of a survey of ethical attitudes, values, and propensities in public sector employees in Australia. It was expected that demographic variables, personal values, and contextual variables at the individual level, and group- and organisational-level values would predict use of formal codes of ethics and ethical tolerance (tolerance of unethical behaviour). Useable data were received from 500 respondents selected at random across public sector organisations in a single Australian state. Results supported the study hypotheses, but indicated that different mechanisms underlie each of the criterion variables. Use of ethical codes was determined primarily on the basis of a perception that others use the code, while ethical tolerance was determined by personal values. At an applied level, the research highlights the need for orgasnizations to establish a critical mass of code users, so that this operates as a normative influence on others in the organization
Keywords 380108 Industrial and Organisational Psychology  720403 Management  390204 Professional Ethics  Ethical attitudes   Public sector employees   Contextual variables   Individual, group and organisational-level values
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