Desire to be ethical or ability to self‐control: Which is more crucial for ethical behavior?

Business Ethics: A European Review 26 (3):288-299 (2017)
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Abstract

Promoting ethical decisions and behaviors is challenging for any organization. Yet managers are still required to make ethical decisions under conditions which deplete their self-control resources, such as high stress and long hours. This study examines the relationships among symbolic and internal moral identity, self-control, and ethical behavior, and investigates whether self-control acts as the mechanism through which moral identity leads to ethical behavior. Findings indicate that internal moral identity overrides symbolic moral identity in the relationship with self-control and that self-control fully mediates the relationship between internal moral identity and ethical behavior. The implications for organizations is that while rules, procedures, and ethics training are useful, managers with a strong moral compass will be more likely to practice self-control leading to more ethical behaviors.

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