Is formal ethics training merely cosmetic? A study of ethics training and ethical organizational culture

Danielle Warren, Joseph P. Gaspar, William S. Laufer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

U.S. Organizational Sentencing Guidelines provide firms with incentives to develop formal ethics programs to promote ethical organizational cultures and thereby decrease corporate offenses. Yet critics argue such programs are cosmetic. Here we studied bank employees before and after the introduction of formal ethics training-an important component of formal ethics programs-to examine the effects of training on ethical organizational culture. Two years after a single training session, we find sustained, positive effects on indicators of an ethical organizational culture (observed unethical behavior, intentions to behave ethically, perceptions of organizational efficacy in managing ethics, and the firm's normative structure). While espoused organizational values also rose in importance post-training, the boost dissipated after the second year which suggests perceptions of values are not driving sustained behavioral improvements. This finding conflicts with past theory which asserts that enduring behavioral improvements arise from the inculcation of organizational values. Implications for future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-117
Number of pages33
JournalBusiness Ethics Quarterly
Volume24
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014

Fingerprint

Ethics training
Organizational culture
Organizational Culture
Ethics programs
Organizational values
Efficacy
Incentives
Employees
Unethical behavior
Intentions
Sentencing
Offence

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Philosophy
  • Economics and Econometrics

Keywords

  • Ethical behavior
  • Ethical organizational culture
  • Formal ethics training
  • U.S. sentencing guidelines
  • Unethical behavior
  • Values

Cite this

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Is formal ethics training merely cosmetic? A study of ethics training and ethical organizational culture. / Warren, Danielle; Gaspar, Joseph P.; Laufer, William S.

In: Business Ethics Quarterly, Vol. 24, No. 1, 01.01.2014, p. 85-117.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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