Recent corporate scandals across various industries have led to an increased focus on research in business ethics, particularly on understanding ethical decision-making. This increased interest is due largely to managers' desire to reduce the incidence of unwanted behaviors in the workplace. This article examines one major moderator of the ethical decision-making process - moral intensity. In particular, we explore the potential influence of a particular cognitive heuristic - the availability heuristic -on perceptions of moral intensity. It is our contention that (...) moral intensity is a perceptual construct, and that individuals' use of the availability heuristic will influence perceptions of moral intensity which, in turn, will affect how moral issues are viewed and ultimately resolved. In this article, we present propositions concerning possible relationships between the availabilities of various phenomena and the components that moral intensity comprises, and report on two studies examining the effects of availabilities on two of these components: magnitude of consequences and social consensus. Our findings indicated that the availability of consequences associated with an act was positively related to perceptions of the magnitude of consequences of that act. We also found that the availability of others who believe that a particular act is morally acceptable is positively related to perceptions of social consensus that that act is morally acceptable. We posit that our results suggest the possibility that perceptions of moral intensity can be actively influenced to reduce unethical behavior in organizations. (shrink)
This research project seeks to discover whether certain characteristics of a moral issue facilitate individuals’ abilities to detect violators of a conditional rule. In business, conditional rules are often framed in terms of a social contract between employer and employee. Of significant concern to business ethicists is the fact that these social contracts are frequently breached. Some researchers in the field of evolutionary psychology argue that there is a biological basis to social contract formation and dissolution in business. However, although (...) it is inescapable that biological forces shaped a fixed neural structure that guides and limits humans’ abilities, we argue that characteristics of the situation in which the person finds himself or herself moderate the activation of these neural circuits in ordinary business social contract situations. Specifically, the moral intensity associated with the social contract conditional rule is likely to influence peoples’ abilities to detect violators of the rule. This study utilizes adapted versions of the Wason selection task and manipulates the issue-contingent moral intensity characteristics of magnitude of consequences, proximity, and social consensus to assess if moral intensity facilitates detection of rule violators. Results from this empirical study indicate no relationship between moral intensity characteristics and issue recognition but do provide insights into the evolutionary psychology approach. (shrink)
ABSTRACT:In this article, we describe evolutionary psychology and its potential contribution to business ethics research. After summarizing evolutionary theory and natural selection, we specifically address the use of evolutionary concepts in psychology in order to offer alternative explanations of behavior relevant to business ethics, such as social exchange, cooperation, altruism, and reciprocity. Our position is that individuals, groups, and organizations all are affected by similar natural, evolutionary processes, such that evolutionary psychology is applicable at multiple levels of analysis (e.g., individual (...) and group). We introduce a variety of experiments and instruments employed by evolutionary psychologists to illustrate how ethics-relevant cultural norms and practices evolve and are regulated, and to raise the prospect that these experiments and instruments can be useful in future business ethics research. (shrink)
Although charismatic leadership theorists have long argued that leader–follower value congruence plays a central role in the development of charismatic relationships, few studies have tested this proposition. Using data from two studies involving a total of 329 CEOs and 1807 members of their top management teams, we tested the hypothesis that value congruence between leaders and their followers is empirically linked to follower perceptions of the charisma of their leader. Consistent with a relational perspective on charismatic leadership, strong support was (...) found for the hypothesis that perceived value congruence between leaders (CEOs) and their followers (members of their top management teams) is positively related to follower perceptions of the degree of charisma possessed by the leader. Conversely, only limited support was found for the hypothesis that actual value congruence is linked to perceptions of charismatic leadership. Implications of these findings for research and practice are discussed. (shrink)
Fairness and justice are core issues in stakeholder theory. Although such considerations receive more attention in the ‘normative’ branch of the stakeholder literature, they have critical implications for ‘instrumental’ stakeholder theory as well. In research in the instrumental vein, although the position has seldom been articulated in significant detail, a stakeholder’s inclination to take action against the firm or, conversely, to cooperate with it, is often taken to be a function of its perceptions concerning the fairness or unfairness of the (...) treatment it receives in its relationship with the firm. Thus, from various works in this domain can be distilled what might be termed a ‘fairness-based perspective on stakeholder behaviour’. This perspective, as it currently stands, assumes a high degree of homogeneity in stakeholders’ responses to fair, unfair, or munificent treatment by the firm. This supposition is itself typically based on a presumption that stakeholders consistently and uniformly adhere to norms of equity and reciprocity in their relationships with firms. However, research developments in equity theory and social exchange theory suggest that such assumptions are likely untenable. Accordingly, in this work, after outlining the fairness-based perspective on stakeholder behaviour, I undertake to augment it by presenting propositions concerning the possible influences of stakeholders’ equity preferences and exchange ideologies on their propensities to sanction or support the firm. Incorporating these stakeholder traits into the fairness-based perspective should enhance the predictive validity of its propositions concerning stakeholder behaviour in response to fairness or unfairness in the firm–stakeholder relationship. (shrink)
Although the possibility that a firm’s stakeholders may take damaging measures against it in response to its activities has been an underlying assumption of stakeholder theory from inception, the conditions that predispose stakeholders to act against firms remain largely unexplored in the literature. Based on work in equity theory, expectancy theory, and resource dependence theory, we present and test hypotheses concerning stakeholders’ propensities to impose sanctions upon—or to support—firms. Using a vignette-based experiment, we found strong confirmation of the criticality of (...) fairness in the firm–stakeholder relationship: stakeholder equity perceptions were unequivocally associated with the proclivity to sanction the firm, or to engage in prosocial behaviours of benefit to it. Stakeholder expectancy perceptions and resource dependence were related to only certain forms of stakeholder action, indicating that researchers should take care to differentiate between types of stakeholder response when investigating questions surrounding stakeholder mobilization. Our results also suggest specific avenues for stakeholder dialogue that could help firms mitigate the likelihood of stakeholders taking damaging action against them. (shrink)
Kruger and Dunning (1999) presented evidence that metacognitive deficiencies in three “domains” (humour, logic, and grammar) are related to individuals’ perceptions that they are “above average” in terms of their competence in those domains. This paper documents a presentation and ensuing discussion concerning the possibility of extending the work of Kruger and Dunning to the domain of ethics.
Because an organization member’s degree of cognitive moral development (CMD) can be expected to influence his or her decisions and behaviour, in this paper we investigate the idea that that employees might prefer to supervise, work with, or work under others of particular levels or stages of CMD. We surveyed undergraduate business students in order to identify typical CMD preferences for co-workers and test preliminary hypotheses concerning possible influences on those preferences. Majorities of subjects expressed preferences for conventional level work (...) peers and subordinates but postconventional superiors, which could augur a lack of congruence between what subordinates typically desire of their superiors and how those superiors are likely to actually behave. (shrink)
This paper employs data from a sample of the CEOs and top managers of seventy-nine U.S. companies and non-profit organizations to test hypotheses concerning the effects of the salience of organizational values on the accuracy of top managers’ perceptions of their CEOs’ values and their propensities to project their own values onto their CEOs. Results provide evidence that the salience of organizational values is positively related to both accuracy in subordinates’ perceptions of their superiors’ values and projection of the subordinates’ (...) values onto their superiors. This initially counterintuitive result is explained with reference to contemporary views of projection as a heuristic rather than as a non-normative bias that results in the cognitive distortion of reality. (shrink)
The person-organization fit (P-O fit) literature suggests that job seekers are attracted to organizations that match their personal values; but, to date, little is known about how individuals’ personal values might affect their preferences for particular job attributes when seeking a job. In this paper, using data from 351 job seekers at several employment agencies in Haute-Normandie, France, we examine possible connections between certain personal values and job attribute preferences among job seekers.