Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 113, Issue 2, pp 317-331

First online:

Characterizing Ethical Cases: A Cross-Cultural Investigation of Individual Differences, Organisational Climate, and Leadership on Ethical Decision-Making

  • J. R. C. KuntzAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, University of Canterbury Email author 
  • , J. R. KuntzAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, University of Edinburgh
  • , Detelin ElenkovAffiliated withDepartment of Management, Angelo State University
  • , Anna NabirukhinaAffiliated withSchool of Economics and Finance, Saint Petersburg State University

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The primary purpose of this study was to explore the unique impact of individual differences (e.g. gender, managerial experience), social culture, ethical leadership, and ethical climate on the manner in which individuals analyse and interpret an organisational scenario. Furthermore, we sought to explore whether the manner in which a scenario is initially interpreted by respondents (i.e. as a legal issue, ethical issue, and/or ethical dilemma) influenced subsequent recognition of the relevant stakeholders involved and the identification of intra- and extra-organisational variables significant to the scenario depicted. Data for this study were anonymously collected from professional samples in Russia (Moscow region) and in New Zealand. Findings show a strong effect of social culture (i.e. working in New Zealand or working in Russia) on the manner in which respondents characterised the scenario, on the experience of ethical climate and ethical leadership in their organisations, and on the ability to identify intra- and extra-organisational variables responsible for the situation presented in the scenario, above and beyond other individual and contextual factors.


Cross-cultural research Ethical climate Ethical leadership Individual differences Scenario characterisation