Journal of Business Ethics 116 (3):553-566 (2013)

This study examines the effects of individual ethical values and organizational factors on the professional ethics of PR practitioners in Korea by considering a person–situation interactionist model. Individual ethical values are used as individual factors, and organizational factors consist of an organization’s reward and punishment for ethical/unethical behavior, the behavior of peers, and the ethical integrity of the chief ethics officer. The professional ethics of PR practitioners (the dependent variable) are classified into the following three dimensions: professional ethics for the public, the client, and the PR industry. The results indicate that agency practitioners were more likely to be committed to their profession than to their organization, whereas in-house practitioners were more likely to be committed to their organization than to their profession. That is, in-house practitioners showed weak professional commitment, indicating that they perceived themselves as employees, not as PR professionals. Organizational factors such as reward, punishment, and peers’ ethical behavior had considerable influence on the professional ethics of in-house practitioners, whereas they had little influence on agency practitioners. Organizational factors as well as individual ethical values were more likely to influence the professional ethics of in-house practitioners than that of agency practitioners. Thus, to foster in-house practitioners’ professional ethics and commitment, professional associations in the PR industry should make efforts to provide in-house practitioners with more information on the PR industry and more opportunities for interacting and maintaining communication with their colleagues in the industry
Keywords Codes of ethics  Korea  Professional ethics  Public relations
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DOI 10.1007/s10551-012-1480-6
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