Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 49, Issue 4, pp 329–335

A Classification Scheme for Codes of Business Ethics

  • Bruce R. Gaumnitz
  • John C. Lere

DOI: 10.1023/B:BUSI.0000021053.73525.23

Cite this article as:
Gaumnitz, B.R. & Lere, J.C. Journal of Business Ethics (2004) 49: 329. doi:10.1023/B:BUSI.0000021053.73525.23


A great deal of interest in codes of ethics exists in both the business community and the academic community. Within the academic community, this interest has given rise to a number of studies of codes of ethics. Many of these studies have focused on the content of various codes.One important way the study of codes of ethics can be advanced is by applying formal tools of analysis to codes of ethics. An understanding of important dimensions that may differ across codes of ethics, a common terminology to describe these dimensions, and a means to measure these dimensions will facilitate applying such tools. They will also facilitate discussion, enable comparisons, and advance our understanding of codes of ethics. The present paper describes a classification scheme to use in studying codes of ethics. This scheme uses six important dimensions to distinguish among codes of ethics: length, focus, level of detail, shape, thematic content, and tone. The paper also introduces metrics that can be used to measure the dimensions.

business ethicsclassificationcodes of ethicsethical comparisonsethical issuesethicsprofessional ethics

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bruce R. Gaumnitz
    • 1
  • John C. Lere
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of AccountingSt. Cloud State UniversitySt. CloudU.S.A.