This week, our articles consider what makes an ethical workplace.
Ethical climates in organisations: Need for more research
Since seminal meta-analytical work in 2006 the authors have witnessed burgeoning research on ethical climates. This article offers a comprehensive review of literature examining the antecedents and outcomes of ethical climates over the last decade, as well as moderators of the relationship between ethical climates and other variables. Based on the review, an agenda for future research is also presented.
In addition to highlighting the potential for incorporating alternative theoretical perspectives such as situational strength theory, trait-activation theory, social information processing theory, and institutional theory to better our understanding of ethical climates, this article highlights the need for future research to incorporate a dynamic perspective to study ethical climates, examine the curvilinear effects of ethical climates on work outcomes, extend the study of ethical climates to different levels of the organisation, and examine the effects of culture on ethical climates.
Alexander Newman, Heather Round, Sukanto Bhattacharya and Achinto Roy. 2017. Ethical Climates in Organizations: A Review and Research Agenda.
Business Ethics Quarterly, 27(4), 475-512.
Ethical influences on the work of tax practitioners
As a contribution to the continuing debate about tax practitioner ethics, this paper explores the main streams of Western ethical thought that are relevant to tax practitioners’ work, most typically deontology and consequentialism (although virtue ethics and distributive justice are also considered).
It then goes on to consider the impact of such ethical influences on the professional ethical codes of conduct that govern tax practitioners’ work (with specific reference to the UK and Ireland), and attempts to unravel the complex work and ethical environment of the practice of tax in terms of tax compliance and tax avoidance. The paper then examines the prior studies on tax practitioners and ethics and the type of dilemmas that practitioners face in the context of their work.
The authors then proceed to examine empirically the extent to which tax practitioners take a consequentialist versus a deontological approach in their reasoning about moral dilemmas. This is carried out by an innovative use of the Defining Issues Test.
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Jane Frecknall-Hughes, Peter Moizer, Elaine Doyle and Barbara Summers. 2017. An Examination of Ethical Influences on the Work of Tax Practitioners.
Journal of Business Ethics, 146(4), 729–745.
Organisational culture in the financial sector
This paper assesses the organisational culture in the finance industry in relation to the global financial crisis and consider the potential of cultural change to improve the financial sector.
To avoid (response) biases, the authors build on the person–organisation fit literature and develop a novel, indirect method for assessing organisational culture that revolves around relationships between employees’ personal traits and their career success in the industry or organisation under study. the authors analyse personal values concerning the pursuit of private gain (self-enhancement values) versus personal values concerning caring for others (self-transcendence values) and consider whether employees that value self-enhancement more and self-transcendence less enjoy more career success relative to their peers when working in finance than when working in other industries.
Results do not reveal any sort of cross-industry differences that would implicate the finance industry’s culture in the financial crisis. Instead, the authors find the opposite, namely that strong self-enhancement values and weak self-transcendence values go together with less career success in the finance industry compared to other industries. Hence, if anything, the culture in the finance industry does not seem to resonate well with professionals that seek to pursue personal gain at the expense of clients’ welfare.
Implication is that cultural change has little potential to improve the financial system. Meanwhile, the method for assessing organisational culture indirectly by analyzing relationships between employees’ traits and their career outcomes has wider applicability, particularly when relying on scores or measures obtained directly from the people concerned is likely to render biased evidence.
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André van Hoorn. 2017. Organisational Culture in the Financial Sector: Evidence from a Cross-Industry Analysis of Employee Personal Values and Career Success.
Journal of Business Ethics, 146(2), 451–467.
Employees’ moral awareness and the impact of ethical leadership
Although a growing body of research has shown the positive impact of ethical leadership on workplace deviance, questions remain as to whether its benefits are consistent across all situations. In this investigation, the authors explore an important boundary condition of ethical leadership by exploring how employees’ moral awareness may lessen the need for ethical leadership.
Drawing on substitutes for leadership theory, the authors suggest that when individuals already possess a heightened level of moral awareness, ethical leadership’s role in reducing deviant actions may be reduced. However, when individuals lack this strong moral disposition, ethical leadership may be instrumental in inspiring them to reduce their deviant actions.
To enhance the external validity and generalisability of the findings, the current research used two large field samples of working professionals in both Turkey and the USA. Results suggest that ethical leadership’s positive influence on workplace deviance is dependent upon the individual’s moral awareness—helpful for those employees whose moral awareness is low, but not high. Thus, the investigation helps to build theory around the contingencies of ethical leadership and the specific audience for whom it may be more (or less) influential.
Kubilay Gok, John J. Sumanth, William H. Bommer, Ozgur Demirtas, Aykut Arslan, Jared Eberhard, Ali Ihsan Ozdemir and Ahmet Yigit. 2017. You May Not Reap What You Sow: How Employees’ Moral Awareness Minimizes Ethical Leadership’s Positive Impact on Workplace Deviance.
Journal of Business Ethics, 146(2), 257–277.
Creating a culture of accountability in the Catholic Church
Like many corporations, the Catholic Church in the United States and Ireland has tried to move beyond scandal. In this case, the scandal was the failure of church leaders to protect minors from clergy sexual abuse, particularly in Boston and Dublin. Like corporate leaders, church leaders have faced the challenge of restoring trust after scandal.
Influenced by corporate trends toward codes of conduct, the archdioceses of both Boston and Dublin provide codes of conduct, but the differences between them are worth noting. In 2015, the Catholic Church in both the United States and Ireland highlighted the need for a culture of accountability that does not succumb to complacency, and in the United States the bishops have once again been encouraged to learn from business.
This paper demonstrates that the Catholic Church is in dialogue with and learns from codes of conduct and cultural practices in business. At the same time, it highlights that the Catholic Church must also be attentive to its own mission since a simple adoption of other corporations’ practices can be detrimental to sharing the Gospel. The appropriation of codes of conduct and cultural practices from business reflects the church’s attentiveness to the signs of the times, and this appropriation needs to be evaluated in the light of the church’s mission to share the Gospel with the world.
Angela Senander. 2017. Beyond Scandal: Creating a Culture of Accountability in the Catholic Church.
Journal of Business Ethics, 146(4), 859–867.
Organisational virtue and performance: Customers and employees
This paper offers the first large-scale empirical study of organisational virtue as perceived by both internal and external stakeholders (employees and customers, respectively) and of the links between these virtues and organisational outcomes such as identification, satisfaction, and distinctiveness. It takes a strategic approach to virtue ethics, one that differs from a more traditional Aristotelian concept of virtue and from Alasdair MacIntyre’s manner of distinguishing between internal and external goods.
The literature review compares three different perspectives on the empirical study of organisational virtues, taken by virtue theorists, POS scholars, and strategy scholars. The main study describes an empirical research undertaking that involved the analysis of 2548 usable questionnaires administered to employees and customers of seven organisations in the U.K.
A structural equation model was used to test the linkages of the six dimensions of organisational virtue (empathy, warmth, integrity, conscientiousness, courage, and zeal) to satisfaction, identification, and distinctiveness. All the links were significant, with the strongest between virtue and identification. For employees, identification (with a firm) was driven most significantly by integrity, whereas customers’ identification was principally influenced by empathy.
The empirical finding also sounds an alarm bell to the global firms who focus on creating a differentiated image based on CSR in the hope that it will lead to satisfaction. The results lead to a discussion of how companies might build favorable stakeholder perceptions of key dimensions of virtue that most shape their identification and differentiation in the marketplace.
Rosa Chun. 2017. Organizational Virtue and Performance: An Empirical Study of Customers and Employees.
Journal of Business Ethics, 146(4), 869–881.