Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 11–19 | Cite as

Executive attitudes, organizational size and ethical issues: Perspectives on a service industry

  • Paul R. Murphy
  • Jonathan E. Smith
  • James M. Daley


Responding to Randall and Gibson's (1990) call for more rigorous methodologies in empirically-based ethics research, this paper develops propositions — based on both previous ethics research as well as the larger organizational behavior literature — examining the impact of attitudes, leadership, presence/absence of ethical codes and organizational size on corporate ethical behavior. The results, which come from a mail survey of 149 companies in a major U.S. service industry, indicate that attitudes and organizational size are the best predictors of ethical behavior. Leadership and ethical codes contribute little to predicting ethical behavior. The paper concludes with an assessment of the relevant propositions, as well as a delineation of future research needs.


Economic Growth Ethic Research Good Predictor Ethical Issue Ethical Behavior 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Akaah, I. P.: 1990, ‘Attitudes of Marketing Professionals Toward Ethics in Marketing Research’,Journal of Business Ethics 9, pp. 45–53.Google Scholar
  2. Baumhart, R. C.: 1961, ‘How Ethical Are Businessmen?’,Harvard Business Review 39, pp. 6–9, 156–176.Google Scholar
  3. Clinard, M. B. and P. C. Yeager: 1980,Corporate Crime (Free Press, New York).Google Scholar
  4. Dalton, D. R. and I. F. Kesner: 1988, ‘On the Dynamics of Corporate Size and Illegal Activity: An Empirical Assessment’,Journal of Business Ethics 7, pp. 861–870.Google Scholar
  5. Finney, H. C. and H. R. Leiseur: 1982, ‘A Contingency Theory of Organizational Crime’, in S. B. Bacharach, ed.,Research in the Sociology of Organizations, Vol. 1 (JAI Press, Greenwich, CT.), pp. 255–299.Google Scholar
  6. Fishbein, M. and I. Ajzen: 1975,Belief, Attitude, Intention and Behavior: An Introduction to Theory and Research (Addison-Wesley, Reading, MA).Google Scholar
  7. Lieberson, S. and J. F. O'Connor: 1972, ‘Leadership and Organizational Performance: A Study of Large Corporations’,American Sociological Review 37, pp. 117–130.Google Scholar
  8. Longnecker, J. G., J. A. McKinney, and C. W. Moore: 1989, ‘Do Smaller Firms Have Higher Ethics?’,Business and Society Review (Fall), pp. 19–21.Google Scholar
  9. Pessemier, E. A., P. C. Burger, and D. S. Tigert: 1967, ‘Can New Product Buyers Be Identified?’,Journal of Marketing Research 4, pp. 349–355.Google Scholar
  10. Randall, D. M. and A. M. Gibson: 1990, ‘Methodology in Business Ethics Research: A Review and Critical Assessment’,Journal of Business Ethics 9, pp. 457–471.Google Scholar
  11. Robertson, T. W. and J. N. Kennedy: 1968, ‘Prediction of Consumer Innovators: Application of Multiple Discriminant Analysis’,Journal of Marketing Research,5, pp. 64–69.Google Scholar
  12. Salancik, G. R. and J. Pfeffer: 1977, ‘Constraints on Administrator Discretion: The Limited Influence of Mayors on City Budgets’,Urban Affairs Quarterly 12, pp. 475–498.Google Scholar
  13. Smith, J. E., K. P. Carson, and R. A. Alexander: 1984, ‘Leadership: It Can Make a Difference’,Academy of Management Journal 27, pp. 765–776.Google Scholar
  14. Stock, J. R.: 1990, ‘Logistics Thought and Practice: A Perspective’,International Journal of Physical Distribution and Logistics Management 20(1), pp. 3–6.Google Scholar
  15. Thomas, A. B.: 1988, ‘Does Leadership Make a Difference to Organizational Performance?’,Administrative Science Quarterly 33, pp. 388–400.Google Scholar
  16. Trawick, I. F., J. E. Swan and D. Rink: 1989, ‘Industrial Buyer Evaluation of the Ethics of Salesperson Gift Giving: Value of the Gift and Customer vs. Prospect Status’,Journal of Personal Selling and Sales Management 9, pp. 31–37.Google Scholar
  17. Tsalikis, J. and D. Fritzche: 1989, ‘Business Ethics: A Literature Review with a Focus on Marketing Ethics’,Journal of Business Ethics 8, pp. 695–743.Google Scholar
  18. Weiner, N. and T. A. Mahoney: 1981, ‘A Model of Corporate Performance as a Function of Environmental, Organizational, and Leadership Influences’,Academy of Management Journal 24, pp. 453–470.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul R. Murphy
    • 1
  • Jonathan E. Smith
    • 1
  • James M. Daley
    • 1
  1. 1.School of BusinessJohn Carroll UniversityClevelandUSA

Personalised recommendations