Decision-Making Processes on Ethical Issues: The Impact of a Social Contract Perspective

Business Ethics Quarterly 5 (2):213 (1995)
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This paper develops a framework for examining decision making about ethical issues and tests the applicability of a social contract perspective. Using two separate sampIes of students and salespeople, we determine that community members tend to judge a potentially unethical act to constitute a violation of an implicit social contract and non-communitymembers do not. Also, consistent with the emphasis on context specificity of integrative social contracts theory, situational variables influence perceptions of ethicality for the community members, but do not affect the perceptions of individuals outside the community. The study finds considerable support for the use of a social contractarian perspective in the study of decision-making processes about ethical issues



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