, Volume 13, Issue 8, pp 637-647

Toward an understanding of ethical climate: Its relationship to ethical behavior and supervisory influence

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Abstract

In recent years, theoretical and empirical developments in the area of organizational climate has provided the impetus for research concerning ethical climate. According to this latter research, ethical climate is a multi-dimensional construct which is manifested in organizations. Studies, however, have not focused on the relationship between ethical climate and ethical behavior. Furthermore, an enhanced understanding of the multi-dimensionality of ethical climate will likely advance what we know about organizational climate and culture in general. We propose further examination of ethical climate by: (1) showing the conceptual relationship between ethical climate and ethical (or unethical) behavior in organizations; and (2) examining supervision as one of the principle influences on ethical climate and concomitant subordinate behavior. Finally, we explore the implications for future research on ethical climate.

James C. Wimbush is Assistant Professor of Business Administration in the Department of Management at Indiana University, Bloomington. His current research is about ethical issues in human resources management.
Jon M. Shepard is Head of the Department of Management at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. His most recent publications include “Egoistic and Ethical Orientations of University Students Toward Work-Related Decisions” (Journal of Business Ethics). His current research interests include ethical climate and the accountability of institutions.