Codes of Ethics, Ethical Behavior, and Organizational Culture from the Managerial Approach: A Case Study in the Colombian Banking Industry

Codes of Ethics, Ethical Behavior, and Organizational Culture from the Managerial Approach: A Case Study in the Colombian Banking Industry

Marta Villegas (Consultant and Researcher in Business Ethics and CSR, Medellin, Colombia) and Michael H. McGivern (Faculty-Doctoral Studies, Jones International University (JIU), Centennial, CO, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/IJSITA.2015010104
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Abstract

This qualitative case study explored managerial perceptions regarding codes of ethics, ethical behavior, and the relationship of these concepts to organizational culture in a Colombian bank ZOX (pseudonym), in a South-American environment. The data-collection phase contained a purposive sample of ten ZOX senior managers, by including four one-on-one interviews, a focus-group interview, and company documents. The findings include the facts that codes of ethics are mandatory and they demand that the individual has his/her own values; ethical behavior follows general principles and values as ethical guides of duty regardless of the consequences; and the organizational culture is influenced by the leaders' ethical behavior. The findings also serve to trace and describe empirically and theoretically the components of a multi-dimensional approach of an ethical organizational culture. A suggestion for further research might be the testing of this multi-dimensional approach in other settings and going deeper into the relationship among its components.
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Background

Even though business ethics has its roots in ancient disciplines, including philosophy, theology, and law, in the twenty-first century its significance has been triggered by corporate scandals and the financial crisis of 2008, in which the Colombian banking sector was not immune. According to Graafland and Ven (2011), the easy money policy and the lack of supervision by Governmental institutions, the focus on short-term results, and the asymmetric information that allowed hindering the risks to mortgage buyers are among the causes of the credit crisis. Furthermore, the relevance of the fields of business ethics and CSR increases through social pressure, which demands that businesses take greater responsibility toward social, political, and environmental concerns (Uccello, 2009). In this scenario, organizations establish norms and instruments, such as codes of ethics, in order to influence employee behavior as well as to recover stakeholder trust. However, according to Burnes (2009), it is important to know what these instruments, such as codes of ethics, mean for employees and what their attitude is toward this issue in order to enhance stakeholders’ loyalty and trust.

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