Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 363–375

A Test of a Person -- Issue Contingent Model of Ethical Decision Making in Organizations

  • Susan J. Harrington

DOI: 10.1023/A:1017900615637

Cite this article as:
Harrington, S.J. Journal of Business Ethics (1997) 16: 363. doi:10.1023/A:1017900615637


Despite the existence of a large number of models to explain the ethical decision-making process, rarely have the models been tested. This research validated the use of such models by showing that both issue-contingent variables and individual characteristics affect two commonly-proposed model components: i.e., moral judgment and moral intent. As proposed by Jones' (1991) ethical decision-making model and elaborated on by the author, the main effect of an issue-contingent variable, social consensus, and a closely-related variable, seriousness of consequences, influenced both moral judgment and moral intent.

Many ethical decision-making models also argue for the inclusion of individual characteristics in the decision-making process. This study proposed and found that the individual characteristics of rule orientation and denial of responsibility influenced moral judgment and moral intent, respectively. However, contrary to some models, interactions between issue-contingent variables and individual characteristics were insignificant relative to the main effects variables. The relationships found have implications for future model testing, as well as for practising managers.

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Susan J. Harrington
    • 1
  1. 1.Georgia CollegeMilledgevilleU.S.A