Ethical Decision Making: A Critical Assessment and an Integrated Model

Ethical Decision Making: A Critical Assessment and an Integrated Model

Norizah Mustamil (Curtin University of Technology, Australia) and Mohammed Quaddus (Curtin University of Technology, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-59904-843-7.ch036
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Abstract

Studies have shown that organizations are putting more effort in enforcing the ethical practices in their decision making activities (Janet, Armen, & Ted, 2001). An increasing number of models have also been proposed that have attempted to explore and explain various philosophical approaches to ethical decision making behaviour. In addition, many empirical studies have been presented in various scholarly journals focusing on this subject with the aim of putting theory into practice (O’Fallon & Butterfield, 2005). Nevertheless, unethical practices including fraud, corruption, and bribery continue to be reported (Trevino & Victor, 1992). Bartlett (2003) claims that there is a large gap between theory and practice in ethical decision making research, as existing models are trapped either in undersocialized view (focus on individual factors only) or oversocialized view (focus on situational factor only). Development of a theoretical framework in the ethical decision making area has proven to be very challenging due to the multitude of complex and varied factors that contribute to ethical behaviour. This article attempts to contribute in this challenging area by reviewing and examining the major existing models and presenting an integrated model of ethical decision making model.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Relativism: This view holds the acceptance of the differences of ethical standard among cultures. They believe that individual have their own perceptions on ethical standard related to their culture values (Forsyth, 1980); therefore, we do not have any right to say whether others’ standards are right or wrong. There is no universal standard to be applied to everyone at all times. As long as the individual believes that standard is accepted and right, it could be a standard for the individual.

National Culture: The pattern of values, beliefs, and practices shared among members of an organization that influence thoughts and behaviour. Culture ca be viewed in terms of both what one does and how one thinks based on their beliefs, traditions, customs, norms, and even religion (Hofstede,1980).

Idealism: Idealistic individuals “insist that one must always avoid harming others” (Forsyth, 1980, p. 244). They are concerned for the welfare of others. Idealistic individuals claim that everybody has a single common end to reach ethical standards. This common end will bind society together to show their obligation to reach an ethical practice.

Moral Intensity: The construct that captures the extent of an issue related to moral imperative in a situation (Jones, 1991). This construct will determine whether the issue faced by individuals in an organization includes the moral dilemma.

Organizational Culture: Formal and informal systems in controlling behaviour of individuals in an organization. This system provides applicable and relevant information of behavioural conduct.

Ethical Decision Making: The practice that could give the benefit for the majority groups, no harm to others, and meet the rules and guidelines as given by legal parties. In other words, the behaviour follows the legal conduct and rules in the company and provides the benefit to the societies.

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