Constructs and Measures
Edited by Bradley R. Agle, David W. Hart, Jeffery A. Thompson and Hilary M. Hendricks
Business ethics researchers often investigate elements incident to ethical or unethical behavior, such as dispositional factors or social influences. Measuring the behavior itself, ethical or not, can also provide valuable insight. The measures outlined in this chapter have been used to measure individuals’ ethical and unethical behavior, particularly in the context of organizations. Behavioral ethics, as a field, seeks to “explain individual behavior that occurs in the context of larger social prescriptions” (Trevi-o, Weaver, and Reynolds, 2006, p._952). But determining which behaviors count as “ethical” is a persistent quandary (Tenbrunsel and Smith-Crowe, 2008; see also the discussions in Chapters 1 and 8 of this book). To avoid the appearance of assuming or prescribing morality, scholars have generally defined specific morality-related behaviors as ethical or unethical within the context of their own studies. Trevi-o et al. (2006) wrote that existing studies draw from three categories of behavior: “unethical behavior,” such as lying, cheating, or stealing; behaviors that are “not unethical,” including honesty and obeying the law; and behaviors that “exceed moral minimums,” like whistleblowing and giving to charity (p. 952). In other disciplines, ethical behavior is even more broadly defined. Within social psychology, “the term ‘moral behavior’ has … been largely synonymous for … the terms ‘altruism,’ ‘helping,’ and ‘pro-social behavior’ (and sometimes fairness and honesty as well)” (Haidt and Kesebir, 2010, p._801). Some definitions also include the nuance of intentionality. For example, Schulman (2002) defined ethical behavior as “acts intended to produce kind and/or fair outcomes” (p. 500).
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