Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 9, Issue 6, pp 457-471

First online:

Methodology in business ethics research: A review and critical assessment

  • D. M. RandallAffiliated withDepartment of Management and Systems, Washington State University
  • , A. M. GibsonAffiliated withDepartment of Management and Systems, Washington State University

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Using 94 published empirical articles in academic journals as a data base, this paper provides a critical review of the methodology employed in the study of ethical beliefs and behavior of organizational members. The review revealed that full methodological detail was provided in less than one half of the articles. Further, the majority of empirical research articles expressed no concern for the reliability or validity of measures, were characterized by low response rates, used convenience samples, and did not offer a theoretic framework, hypotheses, or a definition of ethics. Several recommendations, including a reviewer rating form addressing methodological decisions and inclusion of methodologists on the review panel, are offered to improve methodological rigor in published ethics research.