Journal of Business Ethics:1-19 (forthcoming)

In A Treatise on Virtues and Rewards, Dragonetti advances a theory of action based on rewards for virtues. The idea of rewards, especially of awards, relies on the hypothesis that intrinsic motivations drive the actions of good or virtuous citizens. We apply this theory to virtuous entrepreneurs who voluntarily adopt ethical principles as promoted by a recent Italian law. These firms receive an ethical rating by the Italian Competition Authority and can access a set of economic and non-economic benefits. We survey a sample of 152 private companies with an ER and examine their views on the economic and social motivations and benefits as well as the perceived usefulness of the ER for improving ethical behaviour. An exploratory factor analysis detects four categories of motivation and two categories of benefits, which we use in regression models to test Dragonetti’s theory. Overall, respondents see the ER as an effective tool, except in terms of improving economic performance. We also find that entrepreneurs with lower economic and higher responsiveness motivations attain higher ERs. However, in the respondents’ opinions, the ER is not producing any concrete benefits since we find no relationship between the ER and economic or competitive rewards. These findings have implications for the ICA as well as for private companies.
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DOI 10.1007/s10551-020-04699-8
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