Research Companion to Ethical Behavior in Organizations

Research Companion to Ethical Behavior in Organizations

Constructs and Measures

Elgar original reference

Edited by Bradley R. Agle, David W. Hart, Jeffery A. Thompson and Hilary M. Hendricks

Compiling empirical work from management and social science disciplines, the Research Companion to Ethical Behavior in Organizations provides an entry point for academic researchers and compliance officers interested in measuring the moral dimensions of individuals. Accessible to newcomers but geared toward academics, this detailed book catalogs the varied and nuanced constructs used in behavioral ethics, along with measures that assess those constructs. With its cross-disciplinary focus and expert commentary, a varied collection of learned scholars bring essential studies into one volume, creating a resource that promises to enhance the burgeoning field of behavioral ethics.

Chapter 1: Moral awareness

Jared A. Miller, Zachariah J. Rodgers and John B. Bingham

Subjects: business and management, business ethics and trust, business leadership, research methods in business and management


Moral sensitivity has served as the conceptual starting point for most ethical decision-making models since James Rest (1986) placed it at the forefront of his four-component model of moral action. Yet, until recently, scholarly research on moral sensitivity has been largely overlooked and rarely empirically explored (Reynolds, 2006b). While explanations for the lack of research vary, the noticeable scholarly gap has recently spurred greater interest in the construct. As research into moral sensitivity and the cluster of constructs related to it has gathered momentum, scholars have called for greater precision and care in the discussion (Trevi-o, Weaver, and Reynolds, 2006). The need for greater precision and order for the construct is immediately seen in the naming of the construct itself. While even the most rigorous scholars have long used “moral” and “ethical” interchangeably (e.g., Bryant, 2009; Jones and Ryan, 1997; Trevi-o, 1986) with reasonable justification, the construct of moral/ethical sensitivity has suffered from misspecification and lack of definition clarity as scholars have interchangeably used terms such as “awareness” and “sensitivity” (Jordan, 2009). Kathryn Weaver (2007) notes that “ethical sensitivity has been used interchangeably with moral sensitivity, clinical sensitivity, moral perception, ethical perception, clinical perception, ethical intuition and moral or ethical sensibility” (p. 143). A construct sometimes regarded as the antithesis of awareness, moral disengagement, likewise appears in various forms and with various names. Interchangeable usage and, further, multiple definitions for each of these terms have clouded the constructs and led to a lack of clarity and precision within and across disciplines.