The influence of ethical climate and ethical conflict on role stress in the sales force

  • Charles H. Schwepker
  • O. C. Ferrell
  • Thomas N. Ingram


Several leading models of ethical decision making include factors contributing to an organization’s ethical climate as significant determinants affecting ethical choice. The relationship of ethical climate to ethical conflict and role conflict is examined in a salesperson context. Results suggest that salespersons’ perceptions of a positive ethical climate are negatively associated with their perceived ethical conflict with sales managers. Implications and directions for future research are provided.


Business Ethic Ethical Behavior Ethical Decision Ethical Climate Role Conflict 
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.


  1. Anderson, James C. and David W. Gerbing. 1988. “Structural Equation Modeling in Practice: A Review and Recommended Two-Step Approach.”Psychological Bulletin 103 (May): 411–423.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Armstrong, J. Scott, and Terry S. Overton. 1977. “Estimating Nonresponse Bias in Mail Surveys.”Journal of Marketing Research 14 (August): 396–402.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Bagozzi, Richard P. 1981. “Evaluating Structural Equation Models With Unobservable Variables and Measurement Error: A Comment.”Journal of Marketing Research 18 (August): 375–381.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bommer, Michael, Clarence Gratto, Jerry Gravander, and Mark Tuttle. 1987. “A Behavioral Model of Ethical and Unethical Decision Making.”Journal of Business Ethics 6 (May): 265–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Chatman, Jennifer. 1989. “Improving Interactional Organizational Research: A Model of Person-Organization Fit.”Academy of Management Review 14: 333–349.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Chonko, Lawrence B. and John J. Burnett. 1983. “Measuring the Importance of Ethical Situations as a Source of Role Conflict: A Survey of Salespeople, Sales Managers, and Sales Support Personnel.”Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management 3 (May): 41–47.Google Scholar
  7. —————, Roy D. Howell, and Danny N. Bellenger. 1986. “Congruence in Sales Force Evaluations: Relation to Sales Force Perceptions of Conflict and Ambiguity.”Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management 6 (May): 35–48.Google Scholar
  8. Cohen, Jeffrey, Laurie Pant, and David Sharp. 1993. “A Validation and Extension of a Multidimensional Ethics Scale.”Journal of Business Ethics 12 (July): 13–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cronbach, Lee J. 1951. “Coefficient Alpha and Internal Structure of Tests.”Psychometrika 16 (September): 297–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Cunningham, Margaret H. 1991. “Walking the Thin White Line: A Role Conflict Model of Ethical Decision Making Behavior in the Marketing Research Process.” Dissertation. Texas A&M University.Google Scholar
  11. Dubinsky, Alan J., Roy D. Howell, Thomas N. Ingram, and Danny N. Bellenger. 1986. “Salesforce Socialization.”Journal of Marketing 50 (October): 192–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. ————— and Thomas N. Ingram. 1984. “Correlates of Salespeople’s Ethical Conflict: An Exploratory Investigation.”Journal of Business Ethics 3 (November): 343–353.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. —————, Marvin A. Jolson, Ronald E. Michaels, Masaaki Kotabe, and Chae Un Lim. 1992. “Ethical Perceptions of Field Sales Personnel: An Empirical Assessment.”Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management 12 (Fall): 9–21.Google Scholar
  14. Duncan, O. D. 1975.Introduction to Structural Equation Models. New York: Academic Press.Google Scholar
  15. Enz, Cathy A. 1986.Power and Shared Values in the Corporate Culture. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.Google Scholar
  16. Ethics in American Business: An Opinion Survey. 1988. New York: Touche Ross.Google Scholar
  17. Ferrell, O. C. and Larry G. Gresham. 1985. “A Contingency Framework for Understanding Ethical Decision Making.”Journal of Marketing 49 (Summer): 87–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. —————, —————, and John Fraedrich. 1989. “A Synthesis of Ethical Decision Models for Marketing.”Journal of Macromarketing 9 (Fall): 55–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. ————— and Steven J. Skinner. 1988. “Ethical Behavior and Bureaucratic Structure in Marketing Research Organizations.”Journal of Marketing Research 25 (February): 103–109.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. ————— and K. Mark Weaver. 1978. “Ethical Beliefs of Marketing Managers.”Journal of Marketing 42 (July): 69–73.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Fornell, Claes, and David F. Larcker. 1981. “Evaluating Structural Equation Models With Unobservable Variables and Measurement Error.”Journal of Marketing Research 18 (February): 39–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Frederick, William C., and James Weber. 1987. “The Value of Corporate Managers and Their Critics: An Empirical Description and Normative Implications.” InResearch in Corporate Social Performance and Social Responsibility. Eds. W. C. Frederick and Lee E. Preston. Greenwich, CT: JAI 131–152.Google Scholar
  23. “Gifts to Buyers.” 1979.Purchasing (April 11): 19.Google Scholar
  24. Goodell, Rebecca. 1994. “National Business Ethics Survey Findings.”Ethics Journal (Fall/Winter): 1, 3, 5.Google Scholar
  25. Goolsby, Jerry R. 1992. “A Theory of Role Stress in Boundary Spanning Positions of Marketing Organizations.”Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 20 (Spring): 155–164.Google Scholar
  26. Hansen, Randall S. 1992. “A Multidimensional Scale for Measuring Business Ethics: A Purification and Refinement.”Journal of Business Ethics 11 (November): 523–534.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Hegarty, W. Harvey and Harry P. Sims, Jr. 1979. “Organizational Philosophy, Policies, and Objectives Related to Unethical Decision Behavior: A Laboratory Experiment.”Journal of Applied Psychology 64 (June): 331–338.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Hyman, Michael R. 1996. “A Critique and Revision of the Multidimensional Ethics Scale.”Journal of Empirical Generalisations in Marketing Science 1: 1–35.Google Scholar
  29. Hunt, Shelby D., Lawrence B. Chonko, and James B. Wilcox. 1984. “Ethical Problems of Marketing Researchers.”Journal of Marketing Research 21 (August): 309–324.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. ————— and Scott Vitell. 1986. “A General Theory of Marketing Ethics.”Journal of Macromarketing 6 (Spring): 5–16.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Jones, Thomas M. 1991. “Ethical Decision Making by Individuals in Organizations: An Issue-Contingent Model.”Academy of Management Review 16 (April): 366–395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Jöreskog, Karl G. and Dag Sörbom. 1988.LISREL VII: A Guide to the Program and Applications. Chicago: SPSS.Google Scholar
  33. Kahn, R. L., D. M. Wolfe, R. P. Quinn, J. D. Snoek, and R. A. Rosenthal. 1964.Organizational Stress: Studies in Role Conflict and Ambiguity. New York: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  34. Manning, Frank V. 1981.Managerial Dilemmas and Executive Growth. Reston, VA: Reston Publishing.Google Scholar
  35. Miles, R. H. and William D. Perreault, Jr. 1976. “Organizational Role Conflict: Its Antecedents and Consequences.”Organizational Behavior and Human Performance 17 (October): 19–44.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Moser, Martin R. 1988. “Ethical Conflict at Work: A Critique of the Literature and Recommendations for Future Research.”Journal of Business Ethics 7 (May): 381–387.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Nunnally, Jum C. 1978.Psychometric Theory. New York: McGraw-Hill.Google Scholar
  38. O’Reilly, Charles A., Jennifer Chatman, and David F. Caldwell. 1991. “People and Organizational Culture: A Profile Comparison Approach to Assessing Person-Organization Fit.”Academy of Management Journal 34 (September): 487–516.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Pervin, L. A. 1968. “Performance and Satisfaction as a Function of Individual Environment Fit.”Psychological Bulletin 69: 56–68.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Podsakoff, Philip M. 1982. “Determinants of a Supervisor’s Use of Rewards and Punishments: A Literature Review and Suggestions for Further Research.”Organizational Behavior and Human Performance 29 (February): 58–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Posner, Barry Z. and Warren H. Schmidt. 1987. “Ethics in American Companies: A Managerial Perspective.”Journal of Business Ethics 6 (July): 383–391.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Qualls, William J. and Christopher P. Puto. 1989. “Organizational Climate and Decision Framing: An Integrated Approach to Analyzing Industrial Buying Decisions.”Journal of Marketing Research 26 (May): 179–192.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Reidenbach, R. Eric and Donald P. Robin. 1990. “Toward the Development of a Multidimensional Scale for Improving Evaluations of Business Ethics.”Journal of Business Ethics 9 (August): 639–653.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. —————, —————, and Lyndon Dawson. 1991. “An Application and Extension of a Multidimensional Ethics Scale to Selected Marketing Practices.”Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science 19 (Spring): 83–92.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Rudelius, W. and R. A. Bucholz. 1979. “Ethical Problems of Purchasing Managers.”Harvard Business Review 57 (March–April): 8–17.Google Scholar
  46. Rummell, R. J. 1967. “Understanding Factor Analysis.”Journal of Conflict Resolution 11 (December): 444–480.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Schneider, Benjamin. 1975. “Organizational Climate: An Essay.”Personnel Psychology 28 (Winter): 447–479.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. ————— and J. Rentsch. 1988. “Managing Climates and Cultures: A Futures Perspective.” InFutures of Organizations. Ed. J. Hage. Lexington, MA: Lexington Books 181–200.Google Scholar
  49. Skipper, Robert and Michael R. Hyman. 1993. “On Measuring Ethical Judgments.”Journal of Business Ethics 12 (January): 535–545.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Terborg, J. 1981. “Interactional Psychology and Research on Human Behavior in Organizations.”Academy of Management Review 6: 569–676.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Toffler, B. L. 1986.Tough Choices: Managers Talk Ethics. New York: John Wiley.Google Scholar
  52. Trevino, Linda Klebe. 1986. “Ethical Decision Making in Organizations: A Person-Situation Interactionist Model.”Academy of Management Review 11 (July): 601–617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Victor, Bart and John B. Cullen. 1988. “The Organizational Bases of Ethical Work Climates.”Administrative Science Quarterly 33 (March): 101–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Walker, Orville C., Jr., Gilbert A. Churchill, Jr., and Neil M. Ford. 1979. “Where Do We Go From Here? Selected Conceptual and Empirical Issues Concerning the Motivation and Performance of the Industrial Salesforce.” InCritical Issues in Sales Management: State-of-the-Art and Future Research Needs. Eds. Gerald Albaum and Gilbert A. Churchill, Jr. Eugene: University of Oregon, College of Business Administration 10–75.Google Scholar
  55. Weeks, William A. and Jacques Nantel. 1992. “Corporate Codes of Ethics and Sales Force Behavior: A Case Study.”Journal of Business Ethics 11 (October): 753–760.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Wimbush, James C. and Jon M. Shepard. 1994. “Toward Understanding of Ethical Climate: Its Relationship to Ethical Behavior and Supervisory Influence.”Journal of Business Ethics 13 (August): 637–647.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Wotruba, Thomas R. 1990. “A Comprehensive Framework for the Analysis of Ethical Behavior, With a Focus on Sales Organizations.”Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management 10 (Spring): 29–42.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Academy of Marketing Science 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Charles H. Schwepker
    • 1
    • 2
  • O. C. Ferrell
    • 1
    • 3
    • 4
  • Thomas N. Ingram
    • 5
    • 6
  1. 1.University of MemphisUSA
  2. 2.Central Missouri State UniversityUSA
  3. 3.Louisiana State UniversityUSA
  4. 4.the University of TampaUSA
  5. 5.Georgia State UniversityUSA
  6. 6.Colorado State UniversityUSA

Personalised recommendations