Journal of Business Ethics 34 (1):25 - 38 (2001)

Abstract
Whilst there is a growing volume of literature exploring the ethical implications of organisational change for HRM and the ethical aspects of certain HRM activities, there have been few published U.K. studies of how HR managers actually behave when faced with ethical dilemmas in their work. This paper seeks to enhance the foundations of such knowledge through an examination of the influence of organisational values on the ethical behaviour of Human Resource Managers within a sample of charities in the U.K. and the Republic of Ireland. A qualitative research design is adopted utilising semi-structured interviews. Findings highlight ethical inconsistency in people management in the charity sector arising from the clear application of strong and explicit organisational values to external client groups but their limited influence on people management strategies and practices within the organisation. Many of the ethical issues faced by HRM professionals in both countries arise from this inconsistency. In their handling of ethical dilemmas, the HRM professionals exhibit a combination of a care ethic and a concern for justice but it is also clear that in situations of management intransigence, a desire to be conscience driven often gives way to a contingent approach. Whilst respondents considered it inappropriate for the HRM function to be the conscience of the organisation, it is seen to have a key role in providing management with advice on ethical action. However, the ability of HRM to influence ethical behaviour is highly dependent on the status of the function within the organisation.
Keywords ethics  human resource management  organisational values  personal values  U.K. and Irish charity sectors
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Reprint years 2004
DOI 10.1023/A:1011909904150
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