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Use of Balanced Experiential Inquiry to build ethical strength in the workplace

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Purpose ‐ Managers' willingness to proceed with right action can be diminished by the need for approval and feeling the negative emotions that often accompany ethical challenges. This paper seeks to describe Balanced Experiential Inquiry (BEI), a learning activity designed to help managers develop sustained moral performance. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Using their past experiences for reflective learning, managers engage in BEI to understand what promotes and curtails their ability to respond to ethical issues. Findings ‐ A field study showed that managers engaging in BEI perceived less need for praise from others and experienced a reduction in negative emotions. Research limitations/implications ‐ Future research evaluating BEI should use a control group, diverse sample, and a longitudinal design that tracks outcomes over time. Practical implications ‐ Application of BEI is a promising mechanism to help organizations bolster managers' internal desires to stay on an ethical decision-making path. Originality/value ‐ The paper shows that shared reflection and dialogue are needed to help foster responsibility and build ethical strength in organizational settings.

Keywords: Business ethics; Decision making; Desired moral approbation; Ethical decision making; Experiential learning; Management ethics education and training; Managers; Training

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: March 16, 2012


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