The Ethical Orientation of U.S. Small Business Decision Makers: A Preliminary Study
Recent news reports of escalating ethics violations in the workplace has produced growing concern. This study surveyed small business decision makers concerning their ethical orientation. These results were then compared to general responses as reflected in the norms for validating the three instruments. Small business decision makers perceived themselves as less likely to engage in exploitative power behavior and perceived their organizations as fostering a more collective and procedurally oriented climate that might be interpreted as attempting to institutionalize morality. Additionally, small business decision makers had lower idealism and relativism scores, suggesting that they were more likely to use power to adjust personal injustices or to protect oneself from potential exploitation. Further implication of this preliminary study are discussed.
Badaracco, J. L., Jr., & Webb, A. P. (1995, Winter). Business ethics: A view from the trenches. California Management Review, 37(2), 8-28.
Barnett, J. H., & Karson, M. J. (1987). Personal values and business decisions: An exploratory investigation. Journal of Business, 6( 5), 317-382.
Bauman, R. (1988). It isn't steal ing - is it? Supervision, 49( 1 ), 6-8.
Berenbeim, R. E. (1 987). The corporate ethics test. Business and Society Review, 63, 22-25. Bernstein, P. (1985). Cheating - the new national pastime? Business, 35(4), 24-33.
Beversluis, E. H. ( 1 987). Is there no such thing as business ethics? Journal of Business Ethics, 6(2), 81-88.
Brown, D. J., & King, J. B. ( 1982). Small business ethics: Influences and perceptions. Journal a/ Small Business Management, 20( 1 ), 1 1 -1 8.
Buckley, J. P. ( 1986). Honesty, it's the truth. Security Management, 30(6 ), 87-92.
Cadbury, S. A. (1987). Ethical managers make their own rules. Harvard Business Review, 65( 5), 69-73.
Carter, R. (1987). Employee theft often appears legitimate. Accountancy, JOO ( 1 127), 75-78. Chrisman,). J., & Fry, F. L. (1982). Public versus business expectations: Two views on social responsibil ity for small business. Journal of Small Business Management, 20( 1 ), 19-26.
Christie, R. & Geis, F. L. (1970). Studies in Machiavel/ianism. New York: Academic Press. Clark, J. P., & Hol l inger, R. C. (1983). Theft by employees in work organizations. Rockville, MD: National Institute of Justice.
Dees, J. G., & Starr, J. A. (1992). Entrepreneurship through an eth ical lens: Dilemmas and issues for research and practice. I n D. L. Sexton, & J. D. Kasarda (Eds.), The state of the art of entrepreneurship (pp. 89-1 16). Boston, Mass.: Kent Publishing.
Enz, C. A., Dollinger, M. J., & Daily, C. M. (1990, Fal l). The val ue orientations of minority and non-minority smal l business owners. Entrepreneurship Theory and Practice, 15( I ), 23-25.
Evans, R., & Sedgwick, P. (1991). Business ethics and changes in society. Journal of Business Ethics, 10(1 1), 871-879.
Frederick, W. C. ( 1988). An ethics roundtable: The culprit is the culture. Management Review, 77(8), 48-50.
Forsyth, D. R. (1980). A taxonomy of ethical ideologies. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 39( 1 ), 175-184.
Gatewood,R. D. & Carroll, A. B. (1991 ). Assessment of ethical performance of organization members: A conceptual framework. Academy of Management Review, 16(4), 667-690. Gellerman, S. W. (1989, Winter). Managing ethics from the top down. Sloan Management Review, 30( 2), 73-79.
Giacalone, R. A., & Ashworth, D. N. ( 1988, Summer). From lip service to community service: How to foster an ethical atmosphere in the workplace. Business and Society Review, 66, 31-33.
Goddard, R. W. (1988). Are you an ethical manager? Personnel Journal, 67(3), 38-47. Hector, G. (1989, April 24). Cute tricks on the bottom line. Fortune, 193-200.
Henderson, V. E. (1982). The ethical side of enterprises. Sloan Management Review, 23(3),38-46.
Highlights of the 1992 economic census: Women-owned businesses. (I996, Spring). The partnership. Wash ington, DC: l nteragency Committee on Women's Business Enterprise.
Hills, G. E., & Narayana, C. L. (1992). Profile characteristics, success factors, and marketi ng in highly successful fi rms. I n R. H. Brockhaus, Sr., et al. (Ed.), Frontiers of Entrepreneurship Research. Wellesley, Mass.: Babson College Center for Entrepreneursh ip Studies.
Homsby, J. S., Kuratko, D. F., Naffziger, D. W., Lafollette, W. R., & Hodgetts, R. M. (1994, October). The ethical perceptions of small business owners: A factor analytic study. Journal a/ Small Business Management, 32(4), 9-1 6.
Humphreys, N., Robin, D. P., Reidenbach, R. E., & Moak, D. L. (1993, July). The ethical decision making process of small business owner/managers and their customers. Journal of Small Business Management, 31( 3), 9-22.
Jones, T. M. (1991). Ethical decision making by individuals in organizations: An issue-contingent model. Academy of Management Review, 16( 2), 366-395.
Katz, D., & Kahn, R. ( 1978). The social psychology of organization New York, NY: Wiley. Kellogg Leadership Studies Project. (1996, October). Ethics and leadership. College Park, M D: University of Maryland.
Kirrane, D. E. (1990). Managing Values: A systematic approach to business ethics. Training and Development Journal, 44( I I ), 52-60.
Longenecker, J. G., McKinney, J. A., & Moore, C. W. (1988, Winter). Egoism and independence: Entrepreneurial ethics. Organizational Dynamics, 16( 3). 64-72.
Longenecker, J. G., McKinney, J. A., & Moore, C. W. (1989a, Fall). Do smaller firms have higher ethics? Business & Society Review, 71, 19-21.
Longenecker, J. G., McKinney, J. A., & Moore, C. W. (1989b). Ethics in small business. Journal of Small Business Management, 27(1), 27-31.
Mayo, M. A. (1991, April). Ethical problems encountered by U.S. small business in international marketing. Journal of Small Business Management, 29(2), 51-59.
Payne, S. L., & Duhon, D. ( 1990). Hard time ethics and the small business entrepreneur. Business Insights, 9(2), 29-32.
Payne, S. L., & Giacalone, R. A. (1990). Social psychological approaches to the perception of ethical dilemmas. Human Relations, 43(7 ), 649-665.
Reilly, B. J., & Kyj, M. J. (1990). Ethical business and the ethical person. Business Horizons, 33(6 ), 23-27.
Shostack, G. L. ( 1990). Stand up for ethics. Journal of Business Strategy, 11(3), 48-50. Schneider, B. ( 1973). The perception of organizational climate: The customer's view. Journal of Applied Psychology, 57, 248-256.
Schneider, B. (1975). Organizational climates: An essay. Personnel Psychology, 28, 447-479.
Stead, W. E., Worrell, D. L., & Stead, J. G. (1990). An integrative model for understanding and managing ethical behavior in business organizations. Journal of Business Ethics, 9(3), 233-242.
Smith, P. L., & Oakley, E. F., Ill. (1994). A study of the eth ical values of metropolitan and non-metropolitan small business owners. Journal of Small Business Management, 32(4), 17-27.
Thompson, J. K., & Smith, H. L. (1991). Social responsibility and small business: Suggestions for research. Journal of Small Business Management, 29(1 ), 30-44.
Timmons, J. A., & Stevenson, H. S. (1983). Entrepreneurship education in the 1980s: what entreprereurs say. In J. Kao, & H. H. Stevenson (Eds.), Entrepreneurship: What It Is and How to Teach It. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School.
Victor, B., & Cullen, J. (1987). A theory and measure of ethical climate in organizations. In
L. Preston (Ed.), Research in Corporate Social Performance and Policy (pp. 51-71). Greenwich, CT: JAi Press.
Victor, B., & Cullen, J. (1988). The organizational bases of ethical work climates. Administrative Science Quarterly, 33(1), 101-125.
Von der Embse, T. J., & Wagley, R. A. (1988, Winter). Managerial ethics: Hard decisions on soft criteria. Advanced Management Journal, 53( 1 ), 4-9.
Walls, J. 0., J r. ( 1988). Putting a premium on honesty. Security Management, 32( 9), 81-84. Ward, W. A. (1987, June). Some ethical considerations for small business. Paper presented at the 1 987 World Conference of the International Council for Small Business, Vancouver, B. C., Canada.
Werner, S. B. ( 1992). The movement for reforming American business ethics: A twenty-year perspective. Journal of Business Ethics, 11(1), 61-70.
Wilson, E. ( 1980). Social responsibility of business: What are the small business perspectives? Journal of Small Business Management, 18(3), 17-24.
Zellner, W., King, R. W., Byrd, V. N., DeGeorge, G., & Birnbaum, J. (1994, April 18).
Women entrepreneurs. Business Week, no. 3367, pp. 104-107.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.