, Volume 75, Issue 3, pp 253-271

An Inquiry into the Study of Corporate Codes of Ethics

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Abstract

This paper takes its point of departure in an article by Stevens [Stevens, B.: 1994, Journal of Business Ethics 54, 163–171], in which she identified a lack of knowledge regarding how corporate codes of ethics are communicated and affect behavior in organizations. Taking heed of this suggested gap, we review studies on corporate codes of ethics with an empirical content, published since 1994. The conclusion of the review is that we still lack knowledge on how codes work, how they are communicated and how they are transformed inside organizations. Stevens’ plea could even be extended, arguing that the knowledge gap might be of even more significance than in the mid-1990s. Some directions for how this situation can be approached in future studies are outlined in the paper.

Sven Helin is Assistant Professor in management accounting at the Department of Business Studies (ESI), Örebro University (Sweden). He holds a Ph.D. from Uppsala University (Sweden). His main teaching and research focus is on management accounting and business ethics. Together with Johan SandstrÖm, he is since 2005 working on a project on corportate codes of ethics in Swedish-based large corporations, financed by the Swedish Council for Work Life and Social Science.
Johan Sandström is Senior Lecturer in organization and management at the Department of Business Studies (ESI), örebro University (Sweden). He holds a Ph.D. from Umeå School of Business and Economics, Umeå University (Sweden). His main teaching and research focus is on leadership and organization, corporate sustainability and business ethics.