The ethical orientation of U.S. small business decision makers: A preliminary study

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Dianne H.B. Welsh, Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
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Abstract: The airwaves are being permeated with heated discussions of family values. Values are being equated, in part, with ethics. Almost every discipline has examined ethics. Indeed, ethical considerations affect all forms of human activity, including business organizations. In 1978, Katz and Kahn determined that individual and organization values are important in determining behavior. Since then, a number of authors have expounded on the importance of ethical considerations in business decision making (Andrews, 1989; Berenbeim, 1987; Beversluis, 1987; Evans, 1991; Frederick, 1988; Goddard, 1988; Hector, 1989; Henderson, 1982; Longenecker, McKinney, & Moore, 1988; Payne & Duhon, 1990; Shostack, 1990; Stead, Worrell, & Stead 1990; Von der Embse & Wagley, 1988; and Werner, 1992). The Kellogg Foundation published a working paper series examining ethics and leadership (1996). Recently, proposed frameworks or models of ethical decision making in business have been introduced (Gatewood & Carol, 1991; Payne & Giacalone, 1990; and Jones, 1991). Likewise, unethical behavior has been studied in terms of the cost of employee dishonesty (Clark & Hollinger, 1983; Walls, 1988); in addition to its causes and solutions (Bauman, 1988; Bernstein, 1985; Buckley, 1986; and Carter, 1987). In 1992, Dees and Starr reviewed the existing articles on ethics and small business and concluded that there were few studies that explicitly examined this issue. However, there has yet to be a comprehensive examination of the ethical orientation of small business decision-makers and workplace climate. The importance of a supportive climate is well documented, beginning with Schneider (1973, 1975). Victor and Cullen (1988) called for such additional research concerning specific types of organizations. In particular, is there a difference between individual attitudes of small business decision-makers toward the use of power and individual ethics, and perceptions of ethical climate and behavior in the work place? This article reports the results of a preliminary national survey of small business decision-makers using three measures of ethical orientation. Implications for further research are discussed.

Additional Information

Journal of Small Business Strategy, 8(2), 41-51
Language: English
Date: 1997
Small business, Family values

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