Integrity—Clarifying and Upgrading an Important Concept for Business Ethics

Business and Society Review 117 (1):89-121 (2012)
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ABSTRACTThis article discusses the concept of integrity. Often, integrity is used as a characteristic of individuals showing a high fidelity to generally praised norms. Here, a more independent meaning is suggested so that the concept implies a clear distance to integration instead of mixing up the two concepts. Integrity implies integration within the individual of beliefs, statements, and action. To what degree can society and companies accommodate a pluralism created by individuals with integrity? Here, it is argued that integrity is a useful virtue and that a more integrity‐friendly environment in companies would be beneficial by stimulating the empowered employee to make improved contributions. The concept is central for business ethics and crucial for the company's choice of such policies. A priority of integrity also affects organizational theory and the practical organizing of the company. Integrity is also vital for society at large for both citizens and companies, providing an ideological support for pluralism and a check on demands for conformism. The article also discusses how a virtue such as integrity can function as guidance for the individual operating in a complex world



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