The Challenge of Ethical Behavior in Organizations

Journal of Business Ethics

JBE

Dordrecht

Jul 1992

The imperatives of day-to-day organizational performance are so compelling that there is little time or inclination to divert attention to the moral content of organizational decision-making. Morality appears to be so esoteric and qualitative in nature that it lacks substantive relation to objective and quantitative performance. An effective organizational culture should encourage ethical behavior and discourage unethical behavior. Admittedly, ethical behavior may cost the organization. Even though ethical problems in organizations continue to greatly concern society, organizations and individuals, the potential impact that organizational culture can have on ethical behavior has not really been explored. What is needed in today’s complicated times is for more organizations to step forward and operate with more positive and ethical cultures.

Copyright Kluwer Academic Publishers Group Jul 1992

It has often been said that the only constant in life is change, and nowhere is this more true than in the workplace. As one recent survey concluded, “Over the past decade, the U.S. corporation has been battered by foreign competition, its own out-of-date technology and out-of-touch management and, more recently a flood of mergers and acquisitions. The result has been widespread streamlining of the white-collar ranks and recognition that the old way of doing business is no longer possible or desirable” (U.S. News & World Report, 1989, p. 42).

As the twenty-first century approaches, companies face a variety of changes and challenges that will have a profound impact on organizational dynamics and performance. In many ways, these changes will decide who will survive and prosper into the next century and who will not. Among these challenges are the following:

(1) The challenge of international competition.

(2) The challenge of new technologies.

(3) The challenge of increased quality.

(4) The challenge of employee motivation and commitment.

(5) The challenge of managing a diverse workforce.

(6) The challenge of ethical behavior.

While these challenges must all be met by organizations and managers concerned about survival and competitiveness in the future, this paper will focus on the challenge of ethical behavior. More specifically, this paper will (1) discuss some reasons’ unethical behavior occurs in organizations, (2) highlight the importance of organizational culture in establishing an ethical climate within the organization, and finally, (3) present some suggestions for creating and maintaining an ethically-oriented culture.

ETHICS AND THE CHALLENGE OF ETHICAL BEHAVIOR

The imperatives of day-to-day organizational performance are so compelling that there is little time or inclination to divert attention to the moral content of organizational decision-making. Morality appears to be so esoteric and qualitative in nature that it lacks substantive relation to objective and quantitative performance. Besides, understanding the meaning of ethics and morality requires the distasteful reworking of long-forgotten classroom studies. What could Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle teach us about the world that confronts organizations approaching the twenty-first century? Possibly a gap in philosophical knowledge exists between organizational executives and administrators of different generations. Yet, like it or not, there has and will continue to be a surge of interest in ethics.

The word “ethics” is often in the news these days. Ethics is a philosophical term derived from the Greek word “ethos” meaning character or custom. This definition is germane to effective leadership in organizations in that it connotes an organization code conveying moral integrity and consistent values in service to the public. Certain organizations will commit themselves to a philosophy in a formal pronouncement of a Code of Ethics or Standards of Conduct. Having done so, the recorded idealism is distributed or shelved, and all too often that is that. Other organizations, however, will be concerned with aspects of ethics of greater specificity, usefulness, and consistency.

Formally defined, ethical behavior is that which is morally accepted as “good” and “right” as opposed to “bad” or “wrong” in a particular setting. Is it ethical, for example, to pay a bribe to obtain a business contract in a foreign country? Is it ethical to allow your company to withhold information that might discourage a job candidate from joining your organization? Is it ethical to ask someone to take a job you know will not be good for their career progress? Is it ethical to do personal business on company time?

The list of examples could go on and on. Despite one’s initial inclinations in response to these questions, the major point of it all is to remind organizations that the public-at-large is demanding that government officials, managers, workers in general, and the organizations they represent all act according to high ethical and moral standards. The future will bring a renewed concern with maintaining high standards of ethical behavior in organizational transactions and in the workplace.

Many executives, administrators, and social scientists see unethical behavior as a cancer working on the fabric of society in too many of today’s organizations and beyond. Many are concerned that we face a crisis of ethics in the West that is undermining our competitive strength. This crisis involves business-people, government officials, customers, and employees. Especially worrisome is unethical behavior among employees at all levels of the organization. For example, a recent study found that employees accounted for a higher percentage of retail thefts than did customers (Silverstein, 1989). The study estimated that one in every fifteen employees steals from his or her employer.

In addition, we hear about illegal and unethical behavior on Wall Street, pension scandals in which disreputable executives gamble on risky business ventures with employees’ retirement funds, companies that expose their workers to hazardous working conditions, and blatant favoritism in hiring and promotion practices. Although such practices occur throughout the world, their presence nonetheless serves to remind us of the challenge facing organizations.

This challenge is especially difficult because standards for what constitutes ethical behavior lie in a “grey zone” where clear-cut right-versus wrong answers may not always exist. As a result, sometimes unethical behavior is forced on organizations by the environment in which it exists and laws such as the Foreign Corruption Practices Act. For example, if you were a sales representative for an American company abroad and your foreign competitors used bribes to get business, what would you do? In the United States such behavior is illegal, yet it is perfectly acceptable in other countries. What is ethical here? Similarly, in many countries women are systematically discriminated against in the workplace; it is felt that their place is in the home. In the United States, again, this practice is illegal. If you ran an American company in one of these countries, would you hire women in important positions? If you did, your company might be isolated in the larger business community, and you might lose business. If you did not, you might be violating what most Americans believe to be fair business practices.

The effective management of ethical issues requires that organizations ensure that their managers and employees know how to deal with ethical issues in their everyday work lives. Therefore, organizational members must first understand some of the underlying reasons for the occurrence of unethical practices.

UNETHICAL BEHAVIOR: WHY DOES IT OCCUR IN ORGANIZATIONS?

The potential for individuals and organizations to behave unethically is limitless. Unfortunately, this potential is too frequently realized. Consider, for example, how greed overtook concerns about human welfare when the Manville Corporation suppressed evidence that asbestos inhalation was killing its employees, or when Ford failed to correct a known defect that made its Pinto vulnerable to gas tank explosions following low speed rear-end collisions (Bucholz, I 989). Companies that dump dangerous medical waste materials into our rivers and oceans also appear to favor their own interests over public safety and welfare. Although these examples are better known than many others, they do not appear to be unusual. In fact, the story they tell may be far more typical than we would like, as one expert estimates that about two-thirds of the 500 largest American corporations have been involved in one form of illegal behavior or another (Gellerman, 1986).

Unfortunately, unethical organizational practices are embarrassingly commonplace. It is easy to define such practices as dumping polluted chemical wastes into rivers, insider trading on Wall Street, overcharging the government for Medicaid services, and institutions like Stanford University inappropriately using taxpayer money to buy a yacht or to enlarge their President’s bed in his home as morally wrong. Yet these and many other unethical practices go on almost routinely in many organizations. Why is this so? In other words, what accounts for the unethical actions of people in organizations, more specifically, why do people commit those unethical actions in which individuals knew or should have known that the organization was committing an unethical act? An example recently provided by Baucus and Near (1991) helps to illustrate this distinction.

Recently, a federal court judge found Allegheny Bottling, a Pepsi-Cola bottling franchise, guilty of price fixing. The firm had ended years of cola wars by setting prices with its major competitor, Mid-Atlantic Coca-Cola Bottling (New York Times, 1988). Since evidence showed most executives in the firm knew of the illegal price-fixing scheme, the court not only fined Allegheny $1 million but also sentenced it to three years in prison–a sentence that was suspended since a firm cannot be imprisoned. However, the unusual penalty allowed the judge to place the firm on probation and significantly restrict its operations.

In another case, Harris Corporation pleaded no contest to charges that it participated in a kickback scheme involving a defense department loan to the Philippines (Wall Street Journal, 1989). Although this plea cost the firm $500,000 in fines and civil claims, Harris’s chief executive said the firm and its employees were not guilty of criminal conduct; he maintained that top managers pleaded no contest because the costs associated with litigation would have been greater than the fines, and litigation would have diverted management attention from firm operations.

Although both cases appear to be instances of illegal corporate behavior, there is an important distinction between them. In the first case, Allegheny’s executives knew or should have known the firm’s activities were illegal; price fixing is a clear violation of antitrust law. Further, the courts ruled that evidence indicated the firm had engaged in the illegal act. In contrast, it is not clear that Harris Corporations’ managers committed an illegal act. Some areas of the law are very ambiguous, including the area relevant to this case, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and managers may not at times know what it legal or illegal; thus, a firm may inadvertently engage in behavior that is later defined as illegal or unethical (Baucus and Near, 1991).

One answer to the question of why individuals knowingly commit unethical actions is based on the idea that organizations often reward behaviors that violate ethical standards. Consider, for example, how many business executives are expected to deal in bribes and payoffs, despite the negative publicity and ambiguity of some laws, and how good corporate citizens who blow the whistle on organizational wrongdoing may fear being punished for their actions. Jansen and Von Glinow (1985) explain that organizations tend to develop counternorms, accepted organizational practices that are contrary to prevailing ethical standards. Some of these are summarized in Figure 1. (Figure 1 omitted)

The top of Figure 1 identifies being open and honest as a prevailing ethical norm. Indeed, governmental regulations requiring full disclosure and freedom of information reinforce society’s values toward openness and honesty. Within organizations, however, it is often considered not only acceptable, but desirable, to be much more secretive and deceitful. The practice of stonewalling, willingly hiding relevant information, is quite common. One reason for this is that organizations may actually punish those who are too open and honest. Look at the negative treatment experienced by many employees who are willing to blow the whistle on unethical behavior in their organizations. Also, consider for example, the disclosure that B. F. Goodrich rewarded employees who falsified data on quality aircraft brakes in order to win certification (Vandevier, 1978). Similarly, it has been reported that executives at Metropolitan Edison encouraged employees to withhold information from the press about the Three Mile Island nuclear accident (Gray and Rosen, 1982). Both incidents represent cases in which the counternorms of secrecy and deceitfulness were accepted and supported by the organization.

Figure 1 shows that there are many other organizational counternorms that promote morally and ethically questionable practices. Because these practices are commonly rewarded and accepted suggests that organizations may be operating within a world that dictates its own set of accepted rules. This reasoning suggests a second answer to the question of why organizations knowingly act unethically namely, because managerial values exist that undermine integrity. In a recent analysis of executive integrity, Wolfe explains that managers have developed some ways of thinking (of which they may be quite unaware) that foster unethical behavior (Wolfe, 1988).

One culprit is referred to as the bottom-line-mentality. This line of thinking supports financial success as the only value to be considered. It promotes short-term solutions that are immediately financially sound, despite the fact that they cause problems for others within the organization or the organization as a whole. It promotes an unrealistic belief that everything boils down to a monetary game. As such, rules of morality are merely obstacles, impediments along the way to bottom-line financial success.

A similar bottom-line mentality, the “political bottom line,” is also quite evident in the public sector. For example, when it comes to spending money, the U.S. Congress has no equal. Although much of this expenditure is for purposes of national concern, a sizable portion is devoted to pork-barreling. Pork-barreling refers to the practice whereby a senator or representative forces Congress to allocate monies to special projects that take place in his or her home district. In many cases, the projects have little value and represent a drain on the taxpayers. They do, however, create jobs–and political support–in the home district. This practice is common, because many members of Congress believe it will help them get votes in the next election.

In some more extreme–and definitely ethically questionable–situations, such actions are designed to reward some large-scale campaign contributors in the home district. A case in point is the Maxi Cube cargo handling system. Funds for testing the Maxi Cube cargo handling system were written into the fiscal 1989 defense budget during the final Senate-House Appropriations conference at the request of Rep. John Murtha of Pennsylvania. The $10 million item was specifically targeted for a Philadelphia businessman (and contributor to Murtha’s campaign) who was to manufacture the truck in Murtha’s home district. The only problem was that the U.S. Army had clearly said that it had “no known requirement” for the handler. In response, Murtha was reported to be “mad as hell” at the “nitpicking” by the army. He pushed ahead anyway and used his position on the Appropriations committee to freeze a series of military budgeting requests until he got his pet project approved.

And Murtha is not alone. Rep. Les Aspin of Wisconsin got the Defense Appropriations committee to include $249 million to continue making a certain ten-ton truck (in Wisconsin, naturally) that the army was trying to phase out. It, too, was unneeded, but Aspin wanted the project for his home district. Is this legal? Yes? Is it ethical? That depends upon your point of view (Morgan, 1989). Clearly, Murtha and Aspin thought it was appropriate, given the realities of today’s private and public organizations.

Wolfe also notes that managers tend to rely on an exploitative mentality–a view that encourages “using” people in a way that promotes stereotypes and undermines empathy and compassion. This is a highly selfish perspective, one that sacrifices concerns for others in favor of benefits to one’s own immediate interests. In addition, there is a Madison Avenue mentality–a perspective suggesting that anything is right if the public can be convinced that it’s right. The idea is that executives may be more concerned about their actions appearing ethical than by their legitimate morality–a public relations–guided morality. It is this kind of thinking that leads some companies to hide their unethical actions (by dumping their toxic wastes under cover of night, for instance) or otherwise justify them by attempting to explain them as completely acceptable.

It is not too difficult to recognize how individuals can knowingly engage in unethical practices with such mentalities. The overemphasis on short-term monetary gain and getting votes in the next election may lead to decisions and rationalizations that not only hurt individuals in the long run, but threaten the very existence of organizations themselves. Some common rationalizations used to justify unethical behavior are easily derived from Gellerman (1986):

** Pretending the behavior is not really unethical or illegal.

** Excusing the behavior by saying it’s really in the organization’s or your best interest.

** Assuming the behavior is okay because no one else would ever be expected to find out about it.

** Expecting your superiors to support and protect you if anything should go wrong.

Within the literature on corporate illegality, the predominant view is that pressure and need force organizational members to behave unethically and develop corresponding rationalizations; however, according to recent research this explanation only accounts for illegal acts in some cases (Baucus and Near, 1991). In their data, poor performance and low organizational slack (the excess that remains once a firm has paid its various internal and external constituencies to maintain cooperation) were not associated with illegal behavior, and wrongdoing frequently occurred in munificent environments.

According to the model developed from Baucus and Near’s research (see Figure 2), illegal behavior occurs under certain conditions. (Figure 2 omitted) For example, results from their research showed that (1) large firms are more likely to commit illegal acts than small firms; (2) although the probability of such wrongdoing increases when resources are scarce, it is greatest when resources are plentiful; (3) illegal behavior is prevalent in fairly stable environments but is more probable in dynamic environments; (4) membership in certain industries and a history of repeated wrongdoing are also associated with illegal acts; and, (5) the type of illegal activity chosen may vary according to the particular combination of environmental and internal conditions under which a firm is operating (Baucus and Near, 1991).

Baucus and Near also suggest that conditions of opportunity and predisposition are antecedents of illegal behavior. That is, rather than tightening conditions creating pressure for illegal acts, it may be that loosening ambiguous conditions create opportunities to behave illegally. In terms of the model presented in Figure 2, large firm size provided more opportunity to engage in illegal activities than small size; the former condition may make it easy to hide illegal activities. Rules, procedures, and other control mechanisms often lag behind growth of a firm, providing organizational members with an opportunity to behave illegally because no internal rules prescribe such behavior.

Predisposition indicates a tendency or inclination to select certain activities–illegal ones–over activities because of socialization or other organizational processes. Baucus and Near (1991) avoid the assumption that a firm’s managers or agents subscribe to a different set of ethical standards than the rest of society. Instead, they recognize that organizations, and industries, can exert a powerful influence on their members, even those who initially have fairly strong ethical standards.

As noted above, organizations operating in certain industries tend to behave unethically. Certain industry cultures may predispose organizations to develop cultures that encourage their members to select unethical acts. If an organization’s major competitors in an industry are performing well, in part as a result of unethical activities, it becomes difficult for organizational members to choose only unethical actions, and they may regard unethical actions as a standard of industry practice. Such a scenario results in an organizational culture that serves as a strong precipitant to unethical actions. The next section looks at the organizational culture-ethical behavior relationship.

ORGANIZATIONAL CULTURE AND ETHICAL BEHAVIOR

“Do organizations vary in the ‘ethical climates‘ they establish for their members? The answer to the question is yes, and it is increasingly clear that the ethical tone or climate of organizations is set at the top. What top managers do, and the culture they establish and reinforce, makes a big difference in the way lower-level employees act and in the way the organization as a whole acts when ethical dilemmas are faced. For example, there was no doubt in anyone’s mind at Johnson & Johnson what to do when the infamous Tylenol poisoning took place. Company executives immediately pulled their product from the marketplace they knew that “the J & J way” was to do the right thing regardless of its cost. What they were implicitly saying was that the ethical framework of the company required that they act in good faith in this fashion.

The ethical climate of an organization is the shared set of understandings about what is correct behavior and how ethical issues will be handled. This climate sets the tone for decision making at all levels and in all circumstances. Some of the factors that may be emphasized in different ethical climates of organizations are (Hunt, 1991; Schneider and Rentsch, 1991):

* Personal self-interest

* Company profit

* Operating efficiency

* Individual friendships

* Team interests

* Social responsibility

* Personal morality

* Rules and standard procedures

* Laws and professional codes

As suggested by the prior list, the ethical climate of different organizations can emphasize different things. In the Johnson & Johnson example just cited, the ethical climate supported doing the right thing due to social responsibility–regardless of the cost. In other organizations–perhaps too many–concerns for operating efficiency may outweigh social considerations when similarly difficult decisions are faced.

When the ethical climate is not clear and positive, ethical dilemmas will often result in unethical behavior. In such instances, an organization’s culture also can predispose its members to behave unethically. For example, recent research has found a relationship between organizations with a history of violating the law and continued illegal behavior (Baucus and Near, 1991). Thus, some organizations have a culture that reinforces illegal activity. In addition, some firms are known to selectively recruit and promote employees who have personal values consistent with illegal behavior; firms also may socialize employees to engage in illegal acts as a part of their normal job duties (Conklin, 1977; Geis, 1977). For instance, in his account of cases concerning price fixing for heavy electrical equipment, Geis noted that General Electric removed a manager who refused to discuss prices with a competitor from his job and offered his successor the position with the understanding that management believed he would behave as expected and engage in price-fixing activities (Geis, 1977, p. 124; Baucus and Near, 1991).

Pressure, opportunity, and predisposition can all lead to unethical activities; however, organizations must still take a proactive stance to promote an ethical climate. The final section provides some useful suggestions available to organizations for creating a more ethical climate.

PROMOTING AN ETHICAL CLIMATE: SOME SUGGESTIONS AND STRATEGIES

Recent literature has suggested several strategies for promoting ethical behavior in organizations (Adler and Bird, 1988; Burns, 1987; Harrington, 1991; Raelin, 1987; Stead etal., 1990). First, chief executives should encourage ethical consciousness in their organizations from the top down showing the support and care about ethical practices. Second, formal processes should be used to support and reinforce ethical behavior. For example, internal regulation may involve the use of codes of corporate ethics, and the availability of appeals processes. Finally, it is recommended that the philosophies of top managers as well as immediate supervisors focus on the institutionalization of ethical norms and practices that are incorporated into all organizational levels.

The philosophies of top managers as well as immediate supervisors represent a critical organizational factor influencing the ethical behavior of employees (Stead etal., 1990). Research over a period of more than twenty-five years clearly support the conclusion that the ethical philosophies of management have a major impact on the ethical behavior of their followers employees (Arlow and Ulrich, 1980; Baumhart, 1961; Brenner and Molander, 1977; Carroll, 1978; Hegarty and Sims, 1978, 1979; Posner and Schmidt, 1984; Touche Ross, 1988; Vitell and Festervand, 1987; Worrell etal., 1985).

Nielsen (1989) has stressed the importance of managerial behavior in contributing to ethical or unethical behavior. According to Nielsen, managers behaving unethically contrary to their ethical philosophies represents a serious limit to ethical reasoning in the firm. Much of the research cited in the above paragraph implicitly and explicitly states that ethical philosophies will have little impact on employees’ ethical behavior unless they are supported by managerial behaviors that are consistent with these philosophies. Managers represent significant others in the organizational lives of employees and as such often have their behavior modeled by employees.

One of the most basic of management principles states that if you desire a certain behavior, reinforce it. No doubt, how ethical behavior is perceived by individuals and reinforced by an organization determines the kind of ethical behavior exhibited by employees. As a result, if business leaders want to promote ethical behavior they must accept more responsibility for establishing their organization’s reinforcement system. Research in ethical behavior strongly supports the conclusion that if ethical behavior is desired, the performance measurement, appraisal and reward systems must be modified to account for ethical behavior (Hegarty and Sims, 1978, 1979; Trevino, 1986; Worrell et al., 1985). According to Nielsen (1988, p. 730):

In many cases, mangers choose to do, go along with or ignore the unethical…because they want to avoid the possibility of punishments (or) to gain rewards.

Organizations and their managers must understand that the above recommendations are key components in the development and maintenance of an ethically-oriented organizational culture. Organizations can also enhance an ethically-oriented culture by paying particular attention to principled organizational dissent. Principled organizational dissent is an important concept linking organizational culture to ethical behavior. Principled organizational dissent is the effort by individuals in the organization to protest the status quo because of their objection on ethical grounds, to some practice or policy (Graham, 1986). Organizations committed to promoting an ethical climate should encourage principled organizational dissent instead of punishing such behavior.

Organizations should also provide more ethics training to strengthen their employees’ personal ethical framework. That is, organizations must devote more resources to ethics training programs to help its members clarify their ethical frameworks and practice self-discipline when making ethical decisions in difficult circumstances. What follows is a useful seven-step checklist that organizations should use to help their employees in dealing with an ethical dilemma (Schermerhorn, 1989; Otten, 1986):

(1) Recognize and clarify the dilemma.

(2) Get all the possible facts.

(3) List your options–all of them.

(4) Test each option by asking: “Is it legal? Is it right? Is it beneficial?”

(5) Make your decision.

(6) Double check your decision by asking: “How would I feel if my family found out about this? How would I feel if my decision was printed in the local newspaper?”

(7) Take action.

An effective organizational culture should encourage ethical behavior and discourage unethical behavior. Admittedly, ethical behavior may “cost” the organization. An example might be the loss of sales when a multinational firm refuses to pay a bribe to secure business in a particular country. Certainly, individuals might be reinforced for behaving unethically (particularly if they do not get caught). In a similar fashion, an organization might seem to gain from unethical actions. For example, a purchasing agent for a large corporation might be bribed to purchase all needed office supplies from a particular supplier. However, such gains are often short-term rather than long-term in nature. In the long run, an organization cannot operate if its prevailing culture and values are not congruent with those of society. This is just as true as the observation that, in the long run, an organization cannot survive unless it produces goods and services that society wants and needs. Thus an organizational culture that promotes ethical behavior is not only more compatible with prevailing cultural values, but, in fact, makes good sense.

Although much remains to be learned about why ethical behavior occurs in organizations and creating and maintaining organizational cultures that encourage ethical behavior, organizations can benefit from the following suggestions:

** Be realistic in setting values and goals regarding employment relationships. Do not promise what the organization cannot deliver.

** Encourage input throughout the organization regarding appropriate values and practices for implementing the cultures. Choose values that represent the views of employees at all levels of the organization.

** Do not automatically opt for a “strong” culture. Explore methods to provide for diversity and dissent, such as grievance or complaint mechanisms or other internal review procedures.

** Insure that a whistle-blowing and/or ethical concerns procedure is established for internal problem-solving (Harrington, 1991).

** Provide ethics training programs for all employees. These programs should explain the underlying ethical and legal (Drake and Drake, 1988) principles and present practical aspects of carrying our procedural guidelines. Understand that not all ethical situations are clear-cut. Like many basic business situations, the organization should recognize that there are ambiguous, grey areas where ethical tradeoffs may be necessary. More importantly, some situations have no simple solution (Cooke, 1991).

** Integrate ethical decision-making into the performance appraisal process.

In conclusion, even though ethical problems in organizations continue to greatly concern society, organizations, and individuals, the potential impact that organizational culture can have on ethical behavior has not really been explored (Hellreigel et al., 1989). The challenge of ethical behavior must be met by organizations if they are truly concerned about survival and competitiveness. What is needed in today’s complicated times is for more organizations to step forward and operate with strong, positive, and ethical cultures. Organizations have to ensure that their employees know how to deal with ethical issues in their everyday work lives. As a result, when the ethical climate is clear and positive, everyone will know what is expected of them when inevitable ethical dilemmas occur. This can give employees the confidence to be on the lookout for unethical behavior and act with the understanding that what they are doing is considered correct and will be supported by top management and the entire organization.

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Ronald R. Simms is Associate Professor in the School of Business Administration at the College of William and Mary. His research interests include ethical behavior, experiential learning, employee and management training and development, and organizational transitions. His articles have appeared in a variety of scholarly and practitioner-oriented journals.

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Began career at the Pentagon as a Communications Specialist. Has been involved with commercial aerospace defense projects since 1984 with firms like TRW, Lockheed Martin, Boeing. Served in Iraq from 2003 to 2005 with Army Corps of Engineers supporting IED/Mine clearing operations and destroying Iraqi weapons stockpiles. Born in Bangkok, Thailand, adopted son of a career U.S. Foreign Service Officer. Current interests include democratic process reform, Nation / State Building, Technology Trends and Environmental Studies.
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