Ethical climates and ethical behavior

TR Number
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Virginia Tech

The relationship between five ethical climates -- caring, service, law and code, independence, and instrumentalism -- and four behaviors -- lying, stealing, failure to follow orders, and being an accomplice to a crime -- was tested in a multi-unit, commissioned sales, organization. Drawing extensively from the work of Victor and Cullen (1987;1988) nine hypotheses were formulated and tested to determine the viability of Victor and Cullen’s ethical climate typology and its relationship to various behaviors and firm performance (profitability and shrinkage). The influence of supervisors on ethical climate and subordinates' ethical behavior was also examined. Four of the five types of climate identified by Victor and Cullen were replicated by factor analysis. At the individual level of analysis, 12 of 20 relationships between the ethical climates and behaviors were statistically significant and in the hypothesized directions. However, none of the predicted relationships between the climates and profitability or shrinkage were supported. Nevertheless, these results provide some initial evidence that there is a linkage between ethical climates and ethical behavior. In addition, supervisors were found to have some influence on subordinates ethical behavior. Implications for future research and practice are provided.