Them’s Fightin’ Words: The Effects of Violent Rhetoric on Ethical Decision Making in Business
Joshua R. Gubler
Brigham Young University - Department of Political Science
Nathan P. Kalmoe
George Washington University - Department of Political Science
David A. Wood
Brigham Young University - School of Accountancy
March 29, 2013
This study examines how the use of violent rhetoric by business managers impacts the ethical decision making of employees. We develop and test a model that explains how the use of violent rhetoric impacts employees’ ethical decision making depending upon the source of the rhetoric. The results of two experiments suggest that the use of violent rhetoric by a CEO at a competing company increases employee’s willingness to engage in ethical violations while the use of violent rhetoric by employees’ own CEO decreases employee’s willingness to engage in unethical behavior. Furthermore, we find that participants who made less ethical decisions motivated by violent rhetoric used by a competitor’s CEO did not view their decision as less ethical than the relatively more ethical decisions made by participants exposed to the nonviolent rhetoric of a competitor’s CEO. The results of these studies should prove useful to managers and academics who want to increase ethical decision making within organizations.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 28
Keywords: Ethics, Decision Making, Violent Rhetoric, Leadership
JEL Classification: M1, M14, M54working papers series
Date posted: June 18, 2012 ; Last revised: March 31, 2013
© 2013 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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