Journal of Business Ethics 13 (9):713 - 717 (1994)
Though written corporate codes of ethics have been touted as a panacea for the embarrassments and uncertainties of the past two decades, the absence of clear evaluation procedures severely compromises their usefulness. An ethnographic study comparing development processes and compliance outcomes in large health care facilities and energy companies shows that neither of the two industries has encountered much success with a codes of ethics program. Companies that distribute copies of their code of ethics seldom ensure the process is completed or that employees understand the purpose of the document, and staff responsible for the code give it a low priority relative to their overall responsibilities. Contrary to expectations, health care facilities are no more likely to develop or implement codes of ethics effectively than are energy companies. More extensive research is needed in order to generate the data necessary for the development of realistic standards for the evaluation of codes of ethics.
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