The moderating effect of individuals' perceptions of ethical work climate on ethical judgments and behavioral intentions

Journal of Business Ethics 27 (4):351 - 362 (2000)

Abstract

Dimensions of the ethical work climate, as conceptualized by Victor and Cullen (1988), are potentially important influences on individual ethical decision-making in the organizational context. The present study examined the direct and indirect effects of individuals' perceptions of work climate on their ethical judgments and behavioral intentions regarding an ethical dilemma. A national sample of marketers was surveyed in a scenario-based research study. The results indicated that, although perceived climate dimensions did not have a direct effect on behavioral intentions, there were significant moderating effects. Climates perceived as emphasizing social responsibility and rules/codes moderated the individual ethical judgment-behavioral intentions relationship such that individuals were less likely to say that they would engage in a questionable selling practice even when they themselves did not believe the practice to be unethical. Respondents were somewhat more likely to form intentions consistent with their judgment that the questionable practice was morally acceptable when the ethical climate was characterized by an emphasis on team/friendship.

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