The Ethical Context in Organizations: Influences on Employee Attitudes and Behaviors

Business Ethics Quarterly 8 (3):447-476 (1998)


This field survey focused on two constructs that have been developed to represent the ethical context in organizations: ethical climate and ethical culture. We first examined issues of convergence and divergence between these constructs through factor analysis andcorrelational analysis. Results suggested that the two constructs are measuring somewhat different, but strongly related dimensions ofthe ethical context. We then investigated the relationships between the emergent ethical context factors and an ethics-related attitude(organizational commitment) and behavior (observed unethical conduct) for respondents who work in organizations with and withoutethics codes. Regression results indicated that an ethical culture-based dimension was more strongly associated with observedunethical conduct in code organizations while climate-based dimensions were more strongly associated with observed unethical conduct in non-code organizations. Ethical culture and ethical climate-based factors influenced organizational commitment similarly in both types of organizations. Normative implications of the study are discussed, as are implications for future theorizing, research and management practice

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