Journal of Business Ethics 90 (4):593-606 (2009)

Abstract
In the wake of the current financial crises triggered by risky mortgage-backed securities, the question of ethics and risk-taking is once again at the front and center for both practitioners and academics. Although risk-taking is considered an integral part of strategic decision-making, sometimes firms could be propelled to take risks driven by reasons other than calculated strategic choices. The authors argue that a firm's risk-taking propensity is impacted by its ethical climate (egoistic or benevolent) and its emphasis on output control to manage its marketing function. The firm's long-term orientation is argued to moderate the control–risk propensity relationship. The authors also extend research on risk and performance and argue that the association of risk-taking propensity and firm performance is contingent on the ownership (publicly traded versus privately held) structure of the firm. Based on survey data from a sample of manufacturing industries in the United States, the results show significant impact of ethical climate and marketing output control on a firm's risk-taking propensity; also risk-taking propensity shows a stronger association with firm performance in privately held firms than in publicly traded firms
Keywords risk  risk-taking propensity  ethical climate  long-term orientation  output control  publicly traded  privately held
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DOI 10.1007/s10551-009-0063-7
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