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Ethical decision–making: a multidimensional construct

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Poor ethical decision–making costs industry billions of dollars a year and damages the images of corporations. Thus, by answering the question ‘Why do individuals behave as they do when confronted with ethical issues?’ ethical theory can provide businesses with a means to create a more ethical climate and a more successful operation. This study tested the Ethical Decision–Making Model with accountability (Beu & Buckley 2001), which uses theory that suggests that ethical behavior is influenced by the individual, the issue, social relationships (accountability), and the organization in which the employee is embedded (Brass, Butterfield & Skaggs 1988; Frink & Klimoski 1998). The results showed that individuals’ thought processes (cognitive moral development), personalities (locus of control, hostility and aggression, Machiavellianism), and gender influence how they respond to ethical dilemmas, as well as the salience of the moral issue (moral intensity) and the environmental context (work/school).

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: West Virginia University, Morgantown, West Virginia, USA, 2: University of Oklahoma, Norman, Oklahoma, USA, 3: University of Mississippi, Oxford, Mississippi, USA

Publication date: January 1, 2003

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