Ethics Programs and Ethical Cultures: A Next Step in Unraveling Their Multi-Faceted Relationship

41 Pages Posted: 15 May 2008

See all articles by Muel Kaptein

Muel Kaptein

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM)

Date Written: April 17, 2008

Abstract

The objective of an ethics program is to improve the ethical culture of an organization. To date, empirical research treats at least one of these concepts as a one-dimensional construct. This paper demonstrates that by conceptualizing both constructs as multi-dimensional, a better understanding of the relationship between the two concepts can be achieved. Employing the corporate ethical virtues model, eight dimensions of ethical culture are distinguished. Nine components of an ethics program are specified. To assess the relationship between ethical programs and ethical cultures, a survey of 4,056 members of the U.S. working population was conducted. The results show that the relationship between the individual components of an ethics program and ethical culture differs. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

Keywords: ethics program, ethical culture, virtue theory

JEL Classification: F23, M14, M

Suggested Citation

Kaptein, Muel, Ethics Programs and Ethical Cultures: A Next Step in Unraveling Their Multi-Faceted Relationship (April 17, 2008). ERIM Report Series Reference No. ERS-2008-020-ORG, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1131027

Muel Kaptein (Contact Author)

Erasmus University Rotterdam (EUR) - Rotterdam School of Management (RSM) ( email )

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