AdvisorBeach, Lee Roy
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractPrevious models of ethical decision making in business have placed little emphasis on the role of awareness of ethical dilemmas in determining the ethical outcome of business decision making. After a review of previous models, a contingency model is proposed that explicitly includes the issue of ethical awareness and its role in ethical decision making in business. The resulting contingency model of ethical decision making in business is based on both psychological and sociological theories. Problem content is hypothesized to interact with social expectations to create a state of ethical awareness. This ethical awareness is hypothesized to be affected by the presence or absence of codes of conduct, as well as the presence or absence of risk, as the decision maker moves from awareness of problem dimensions to intention formation. It is thought that risk further affects the decision maker as he/she progresses from intention formation to action. Outcomes are hypothesized to feed back into the awareness and intention formation stages. The model is fully described, and a number of research propositions are offered. The model is partially tested in this dissertation. An issue raising high ethical awareness and an issue raising low ethical awareness are tested for their impact on decision making. Further, the impact of business and professional codes are examined, as well as the role of risk in ethical decision making. It is found that different variables impact the decision process, depending on high or low states of ethical awareness. High ethical awareness results in a high frequency of ethical decisions, but low ethical awareness has no impact on frequency of ethical decisions. It is found that codes do not have impact in the laboratory setting, but risk does, under conditions of low ethical awareness. Under a condition of high ethical awareness, ethical awareness positively impacted ethical decision making. Under a condition of low ethical awareness, ethical awareness did not impact ethical decision making, but age negatively impacted ethical decision making, and work experience positively impacted ethical decision making. The study may be limited due to sample (MBA students) and technique (in-basket exercise). Suggestions for future research were to: (1) investigate the cause of high or low ethical awareness, using the problem content and social expectation interaction as one hypothesis; (2) verify the use of differential information in the decision process, dependent on condition of high or low ethical awareness; and (3) find more productive ways of identifying the action of codes in the ethical decision making process.
Degree ProgramGraduate College