The Influence of Morality-Based Individual Differences and Interpersonal Power on Ethical Decision Making
Sturm, Rachel Elizabeth
MetadataShow full item record
Managers have awakened to the potential dangers that unethical decisions can have in the workplace. As such, it has become increasingly important for managers to hire, and promote into leadership positions, those who are morally inclined. Behavioral ethics research has contributed to this effort by examining an array of individual difference variables (e.g., locus of control) and contextual factors (e.g., magnitude of consequences) that play a role in morality. However, past research has focused mostly on direct causal effects and not so much on the processes (including mediation and moderation) through which different factors lead to ethical decisions. The purpose of the current research is to examine the process, which includes both automatic and conscious decision pathways, through which an emergent concept, moral attentiveness, influences ethical decisions. In particular, the impact of interpersonal power on ethical prototypes (i.e., the automatic pathway) and moral awareness (i.e., the conscious pathway) is examined. The findings of two studies reveal that moral attentiveness, in addition to both accurate ethical prototypes and moral awareness of the situation, positively influences the ethical decision-making process. Thus, moral attentiveness represents a promising area of study because it suggests that there is explanatory value in simply recognizing the extent to which individuals consider morality and moral content in daily experiences (i.e., perceptual moral attentiveness) and decisions (i.e., reflective moral attentiveness). In addition, whereas power was not found to play a strong role in the ethical decision-making process, results demonstrate that while the possession of power usually engenders a sense of entitlement, its consequences for ethical decision making are not always predictably negative.