Ethical Decision Making And Ethical Leadership

3810 words - 16 pages


To improve ethical decision making in business, one must first understand how individuals make ethical decisions in an organizational environment. Too often it is assumed that individuals in organizations make ethical decisions in the same way that they make ethical decisions at home, in their family, or in their personal lives. Within the context of an organizational work group, however, few individuals have the freedom to decide ethical issues independent of organizational pressures.

The first step in ethical decision making is to recognize that an ethical issue requires an individual or work group to choose ...view middle of the document...

The perception of ethical issue intensity can be influenced by managements use of reward and punishments, corporate policies, and corporate values to sensitize employees. In the words, managers can affect the degree to which employees perceive the importance of an ethical issue through positive and/or negative incentives.

When people need to resolve ethical issues in their daily lives, they often base their decisions on their own values and principles of right or wrong. The generally learn these values and principles through the socialization process with family members, social groups, and religion and in their formal education. Research regarding individual factors that affect ethical awareness, judgment, intent, and behavior include gender, education, work experience, nationality, age, and locus of control.
Education, the number of years spent in pursuit of academic knowledge, is also a significant factor in the ethical decision-making process. The important thing to remember about education is that it does not reflect experience. Work experiences is defined as the number of years within a specific job, occupation, and/or industry. Generally, the more education or work experiences that one has, the better he/she is at ethical decision making.
Nationality is the legal relationship between a person and the country in which he/she is born. Age is another individuals factors that has been researched within business ethics. In other words, the older you are, the more ethical you are. However, recent research suggest that there is probably a more complex relationship between ethics and age.
Locus of control relates to individual differences in relation to a generalized beliefs about how one is affected by internal versus external events or reinforcements. In other word, the concept relates to where people view themselves in relation to power. Those who believe in external control see themselves as going with the flow because that’s all they can do. They believed that the events in their lives are do to uncontrollable forces. They consider what they want to achieve depends on luck, chance, and powerful people in their company. Conversely, those who believe in internal control believe that they control the events in their lives by their own effort and skill, viewing themselves as masters of their destinies and trusting in their capacity to influence their environment.

Although people can and do make individual ethical choices in business situations, no one operates in a vacuum. Indeed, research has established that in the workplace the organizations values often have greater influence on decisions than a persons own values. Ethical choices in business are most often made jointly, in work groups and committees, or in conversations and discussions with coworkers. The outcome of this learning process depend on the strength of each person personal values, the opportunities he or she has to behave...

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