An examination of the 2012–2022 empirical ethical decision‐making literature: A quinary review

Business Ethics, the Environment and Responsibility (forthcoming)
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Abstract

This review summarizes the empirical ethical decision-making (EDM) research in business published between 2012 and 2022. Utilizing Rest's (Moral development: advances in research and theory, Praeger, New York, 1986) four-step model for EDM and Jones' (Acad Manag Rev, 16(2): 366-395, 1991) theory of moral intensity, 85 articles, resulting in 388 findings, were analyzed. Empirical findings in awareness, intent, judgment, and behavior were categorized by their application to individual and organizational factors resulting in the application of 624 and 62 factors, respectively. A maturing of the research environment is seen through the need for grouping individual factors into themes, essentially forming new connections within EDM research. This article prioritizes new factors and themes, such as bad behaviors, customers and selling, fantasy and imagination, and negative experiences. Additionally, new research in reoccurring themes such as demographics, feelings, personality, and power have elements that were seen in prior reviews but are more nuanced in the current. Furthermore, this quinary review discusses the evolution of EDM research highlighting the relationships studied and modifiers and mediators used. These themes help shape the landscape of EDM research by illustrating the intersectionality of variables. This article advances the understanding of how these foundational models are being nuanced to understand more deeply the EDM process. A call for future research incorporating intersectionality, the continued pursuit of complex relationships, longitudinal research, and major societal and organizational movements is included. Research into the effects of underrepresented demographics such as gender identity, veteran status, and ability is suggested. Furthermore, we question whether Rest (1986) and Jones' (1991) models are inherently Western and if comparing outcomes with a decolonialized research method might give insight into EDM. We present this latest 10-year collection of EDM empirical research based on Rest (1986) and Jones (1991) as a tool for new and future scholars to utilize in their research endeavors.

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