Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 99, Issue 2, pp 129-143

First online:

Ethical Decision Making in Organizations: The Role of Leadership Stress

  • Marcus SelartAffiliated withNorwegian School of Economics and Business Administration Email author 
  • , Svein Tvedt JohansenAffiliated withDepartment of Business Administration and Social Science, Harstad University College

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Across two studies the hypotheses were tested that stressful situations affect both leadership ethical acting and leaders’ recognition of ethical dilemmas. In the studies, decision makers recruited from 3 sites of a Swedish multinational civil engineering company provided personal data on stressful situations, made ethical decisions, and answered to stress-outcome questions. Stressful situations were observed to have a greater impact on ethical acting than on the recognition of ethical dilemmas. This was particularly true for situations involving punishment and lack of rewards. The results are important for the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) of an organization, especially with regard to the analysis of the stressors influencing managerial work and its implications for ethical behavior.

Key words:

ethical decision making organizational stress moral values time management crisis management