Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 90, Supplement 4, pp 461–486 | Cite as

Hierarchical Motive Structures and Their Role in Moral Choices

  • Richard P. Bagozzi
  • Leslie E. SekerkaEmail author
  • Vanessa Hill


Leader-managers face a myriad of competing values when they engage in ethical decision-making. Few studies help us understand why certain reasons for action are justified, taking precedence over others when people choose to respond to an ethical dilemma. To help address this matter we began with a qualitative approach to disclose leader-managers’ moral motives when they decide to address a work-related ethical dilemma. One hundred and nine military officers were asked to provide their reasons for taking action, justifications of their reasons, and to explain these justifications. We used network analysis techniques to identify a hierarchical motive structure. The motive structure is a cognitive map that identifies ethical motives and perceptions of how these ethical motives relate to each other. The motives identified represent classic conceptualizations of moral behavior; namely, virtue theories, consequentialism, and deontological theories, along with another category that expressed the emotional significance of the moral judgment, which we refer to as emotional empiricism.


moral decision making cognitive networks motives ethics 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Agle, B.R., R.K. Mitchell, and J.A. Sonnenfeld: 1999, ‘Who Matters to CEOs? An Investigation of Stakeholder Attributes and Salience, Corporate Performance, and CEO Values’, Academy of Management Journal 42(1): 507–525.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anscombe, G.E.M.: 1963, Intention, (Cornell University Press, Ithaca, NY).Google Scholar
  3. Antaki, C.: 1994, Explaining and Arguing: The Social Organization of Accounts, (Sage, London).Google Scholar
  4. Bagozzi, R.P., M. Bergami and L. Leone: 2003, ‘Hierarchical Representation of Motives in Goal Setting’, Journal of Applied Psychology 88, 915-943.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Baier, A.C.: 1991, A Progress of Sentiments: Reflections on Hume’s Treatise (Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA).Google Scholar
  6. Bartone, P.T., S.A. Snook, G.B. Forsyth, P. Lewis, and R.C. Bullis: 2007, ‘Psychosocial Development and Leader Performance of Military Officer Cadets’, The Leadership Quarterly 18, 490–504.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bass, B.M.: 1985, Leadership and Performance beyond Expectations, (Free Press, New York, NY).Google Scholar
  8. Batson, C.D., C.L. Turk, L.L. Shaw, and T.R. Klein: 1995, ‘Information Function of Empathic Emotion: Learning that We Value the Other’s Welfare’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 68, 300-313.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Billig, M.: 1987, Arguing and Thinking: A Rhetorical Approach to Social Psychology (2nd ed.), (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge).Google Scholar
  10. Blackburn, S.: 2005, The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy (2nd ed.), (Oxford University Press, Oxford).Google Scholar
  11. Boland, V.: 2007, St. Thomas Aquinas, (Continuum, London).Google Scholar
  12. Borgatti, S.P.: 2002, Netdraw Network Visualization, (Analytic Technologies, Harvard, MA).Google Scholar
  13. Boyatzis, R.: 1998, Transforming Qualitative Information, (Thousand Oaks, CA, Sage).Google Scholar
  14. Brink, D.: 1997, ‘Kantian Rationalism: Inescapability, Authority, and Supremacy’, in G. Cullitz, B. Gaut, (eds.), Ethics and Practical Reason (Oxford University Press, Oxford).Google Scholar
  15. Broad, C.D.: 1930, Five Types of Ethical Theory, (Harcourt, Brace & Co., New York).Google Scholar
  16. Byrne, Z.S. and R. Cropanzano: 2001, ‘History of Organizational Justice: The Founders Speak’, in R. Cropanzano (ed.), Justice in the Workplace: From Theory to Practice (Lawrence Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ), pp. 3-21.Google Scholar
  17. Capaldi, N.: 1989, Hume’s Place in Moral Philosophy, (Peter Lang, New York).Google Scholar
  18. Carley, K.M. and V. Hill: 2001, ‘Structural Change and Learning within Organizations,’ in A. Lomi and E. Larsen (eds.), Dynamics of Organizations: Computational Modeling and Organization Theories (the MIT Press, Cambridge, MA).Google Scholar
  19. Carver, C.S. and M. F. Scheier: 1998, On the Self-regulation of Behavior, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge).Google Scholar
  20. Coad, A.F. and A.J. Berry: 1998, ‘Transformational Leadership and Learning Orientation’, Leadership & Organization Development Journal, 19(3), 164-72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Coleman, J., E. Katz, and H. Menzel: 1957, ‘The Diffusion of Innovation Among Physicians’, Sociometry 20, 253-270. CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Crisp. R. and M. Slote (eds.): 1997, Virtue Ethics, (Oxford University Press, Oxford).Google Scholar
  23. D’Andrade, R.G.: 1992, ‘Schemas and Motivation’, in R.G. D’Andrade and C. Strauss (eds.), Human Motives and Cultural Models (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge), pp. 23-44.Google Scholar
  24. D’Andrade, R.G.: 1995, The Development of Cognitive Anthropology, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge).Google Scholar
  25. Darwall, S. (ed.): 2002, Consequentialism, (Blackwell, Oxford).Google Scholar
  26. Davis, M.H.: 1994, Empathy: A Social Psychological Approach, (Brown & Benchmark, Madison, WI).Google Scholar
  27. Davis, F., R.P. Bagozzi, and P. Warshaw: 1989, ‘User Acceptance of Computer Technology: A Comparison of Two Theoretical Models’, Management Science, 35, 982-1003.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Donaldson, T. and T.W. Dunfee: 1994, ‘Toward a Unified Conception of Business Ethics: Integrative Social Contracts Theory’, Academy of Management Review 19, 252-284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Donaldson, T. and L. Preston: 1995, ‘The Stakeholder Theory of the Corporation: Concepts, Evidence, and Implications’, Academy of Management Review 20(1), 65–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Eisenberg, N.: 2000a, ‘Emotion, Regulation, and Moral Development’, Annual Review of Psychology 51, 665-697.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Eisenberg, N.: 2000b, ‘Empathy and Sympathy’, in M. Lewis and J.M. Haviland-Jones (eds.), Handbook of Emotion, 2nd ed. (Guilford Press, New York), pp. 677-691.Google Scholar
  32. Eveland, J.D. and T. Bikson: 1987, ‘Evolving Electronic Communication Networks: An Empirical Assessment.’ Office: Technology and People, 3, 103-128.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Faust, K. and S. Wasserman: 1992, ‘Centrality and Prestige: A Review and Synthesis’, Journal of Quantitative Anthropology 4, 23-78.Google Scholar
  34. Freeman, L.:1979, ‘Centrality in Social Networks: Conceptual Clarification’, Social Networks 1, 215-39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Freeman, R.E.: 1984, Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach (Pitman, Boston, MA).Google Scholar
  36. Freeman, R.E.: 1994, ‘The Politics of Stakeholder Theory: Some Future Directions’, Business Ethics Quarterly 4(4), 409–421.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Freeman, L, A.K. Romney, and S. Freeman: 1987, ‘Cognitive Structure and Informant Accuracy’, American Anthropologist 89, 310-325.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Friedman, M.: 1962, Capitalism and Freedom, (The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL).Google Scholar
  39. Friedman, M.: 1970, ‘The Social Responsibility of Business to Increase Its Profits’, New York Times 13(September), 122–126.Google Scholar
  40. Friedman, M.: 2002, Capitalism and Freedom, 40th Anniversary Edition, (The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL).Google Scholar
  41. Greenberg, J.J. and A. Colquitt: 2005, Handbook of Organizational Justice, (Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahway, NJ).Google Scholar
  42. Greene, J., and J. Haidt: 2002, ‘How (and Where) Does Moral Judgment Work?’, Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 6, 517-523.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Greenspan, P.: 2000, ‘Emotional Strategies and Rationality’, Ethics 110, 469-487.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Haidt, J.: 2001, ‘The Emotional Dog and its Rational Tail: A Social Intuitionist Approach to Moral Judgment’, Psychological Review 108, 814-834.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Haidt, J. and C. Joseph: 2004, ‘Intuitive Ethics: How Innately Prepared Intuitions Generate Culturally Variable Virtues’, Daedalus 133, 55-66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Hanson, K. O.: 2009, ‘Ethics and the Middle Manager: Creating Tone in the Middle’,
  47. Hill, V., K. M. Carley: 1999, An Approach to Identifying Consensus in a Subfield: The Case of Organizational Culture. Poetics, 27: 1–30CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Hill, V. and K.M. Carley: 2008, ‘Win Friends and Influence People: Relationships as Conduits of Organizational Culture in Temporary Placement Agencies’, Journal of Management Inquiry 17(4),369-379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Hobbes, T.: 1968, in C. B. Macpherson (ed.), Leviathan (Harmondsworth, Penguin), Chaps. 14–15.Google Scholar
  50. Hoffman, M.L.: 2000, Empathy and Moral Development: Implications for Caring and Justice, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge).Google Scholar
  51. Honderich, T. (ed.): 2005, The Oxford Companion to Philosophy (2nd ed.), (Oxford University Press, Oxford).Google Scholar
  52. Hooker, B.: 2000, Ideal Code, Real World, (Clarendon Press, Oxford).Google Scholar
  53. Hume, D.: 1739/1978, in L. A. Selby and P. H. Nidditch (eds.), A Treatise of Human Nature (Clarendon Press, Oxford).Google Scholar
  54. Hursthouse, R.: 1999, On Virtue Ethics, (Oxford University Press, Oxford).Google Scholar
  55. Jones, T.M.: 1991, ‘Ethical Decision Making by Individuals in Organizations: An Issue-Contingent Model’, Academy of Management Review 16, 366-395.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Jones, T.M. and L. V. Ryan: 1997, ‘The Link between Ethical Judgment and Action in Organizations: A Moral Approbation Approach’, Organization Science 8, 663-680.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Jones, T.M. and A.C. Wicks: 1999, ‘Convergent Stakeholder Theory’, Academy of Management Review 24(2): 206-222.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Joyce, R.: 2006, The Evolution of Morality, (The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA).Google Scholar
  59. Knoke, D. and R. S. Burt: 1982, ‘Prominence’, in R.S. Burt and M.J. Minor (eds.), Applied Network Analysis (Sage, Beverly Hills, CA).Google Scholar
  60. Kohlberg, L.: 1984, The Psychology of Moral Development: Moral Stages and the Life Cycle (Harper & Row, San Francisco, CA).Google Scholar
  61. Kolditz, T.: 2007, In Extremis Leadership: Leading as if Your Life Depended on It, (Jossey-Bass, San Francisco, CA).Google Scholar
  62. Landman, J.: 1993, Regret: The Persistence and the Possible, (Oxford University Press, Oxford).Google Scholar
  63. Lazarus, R.S.: 1991, Emotion and Adaptation, (Oxford University Press, Oxford).Google Scholar
  64. MacDonald, S.: 1991, ‘Ultimate Ends in Practical Reasoning: Aquinas’ Aristotelian Moral Psychology and Anscombe’s Fallacy’, The Philosophical Review c, 31-66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  65. Mackie, J.L.: 1980, Hume’s Moral Theory, (Routledge, London).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  66. Matthews, R.J.: 2007, The Measure of Mind: Propositional Attitudes and their Attribution, (Oxford: Oxford University Press).Google Scholar
  67. McKinney, D.: 2009, ‘What CEOs Can Learn from Commandos: Seven Crucial Lessons’,,
  68. Morris, M.:1994, ‘Epidemiology and Social Networks: Modeling Structured Diffusion,’ in S. Wasserman and J. Galaskiewicz (eds.) Advances in Social Network Analysis (Sage Publications, Thousand Oaks, CA).Google Scholar
  69. Muldoon, S.D.: 2005, ‘Leadership: Interpreting Life Patterns and Their Managerial Significance’, The Journal of Management Development 24(1/2), 132-145.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. New York Times: May 1, 2009, ‘Obama’s Remarks on the Resignation of Justice Souter’,
  71. Nichols, S.: 2004, ‘After Objectivity: An Empirical Study of Moral Judgment’, Philosophical Psychology 17, 3-26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  72. Nwokah, N.G.: 2008, ‘Marketing in Governance: Leader-managerial Practices for Efficiency in Competency-based Administration and Transformational Marketing Model,’ Corporate Governance, 8(1), 18-27.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  73. Pant, P.N. and R. Lachman: 1998, ‘Value Incongruity and Strategic Choice’, Journal of Management Studies 35(2), 195–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  74. Pieters, R., H. Baumgartner, and D. Allen: 1995, ‘A Means-End Chain Approach to Consumer Goal Structures’, International Journal of Research in Marketing 12, 227-244.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Powers, W.T.: 1973, Behavior: The Control of Perception, (Aldine, Chicago, IL).Google Scholar
  76. Quinn, N.: 1992, ‘The Motivational Force of Self-Understanding’, in R.G. D’Andrade and C. Strauss (eds.), Human Motives and Cultural Models (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge), pp. 90-126.Google Scholar
  77. Rest, J.R.: 1986, ‘The Major Component of Morality’, in W.M. Kurtines and J.L. Gerwitz (eds.), Morality, Moral Behavior, and Moral Development, (Wiley, New York), pp. 24-38.Google Scholar
  78. Rozin, P., L. Lowery, S. Imada, and J. Haidt: 1999, ‘The CAD Triad Hypothesis: A Mapping between Three Moral Emotions (Contempt, Anger, Disgust) and Three Moral Codes (Community, Autonomy, Divinity)’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 76, 574-586.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  79. Ryan, L.V. and C.M. Riordan: 2000, ‘The Development of a Measure of Desired Moral Approbation’, Educational and Psychological Measurement 60, 448-462.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  80. Scheffler, S. (ed.): 1988, Consequentialism and its Critics, (Oxford University Press, Oxford).Google Scholar
  81. Schmidtz, D.: 1994, ‘Choosing Ends’, Ethics 104, 226-251.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  82. Schmidtz, D.: 2001, ‘Choosing Ends’, in E. Milgram (ed.), Varieties of Practical Reasoning, (MIT Press, Cambridge, MA), pp. 237-257.Google Scholar
  83. Schwartz, S.H. and W. Bilsky: 1990, ‘Toward a Theory of the Universal Content and Structure of Values: Extensions and Cross Cultural Replications’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 58, 878-891.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  84. Scott, J.: 1991, Social Network Analysis: A Handbook, (2nd ed.) (Sage, London).Google Scholar
  85. Shweder, R.A. 1992, ‘Ghost Busters in Anthropology’, in R.G. D’Andrade and C. Strauss (eds.), Human Motives and Cultural Models, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge), pp. 45-58.Google Scholar
  86. Slote, M.: 1997, ‘Agent-based Virtue Ethics’, in R. Crisp and M. Slote (eds.), Virtue Ethics (Oxford University Press, Oxford), pp. 239-262.Google Scholar
  87. Smith, E.E., A. L. Patalano, and J. Jonides: 1998, ‘Alternative Strategies of Categorization’, Cognition 65, 167-196.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  88. Snell, R.S.: 2000, ‘Studying Moral Ethos Using an Adapted Kohlbergian Model’, Organization Studies 21, 267-295.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  89. Sosa, D.: 1993, ‘Consequences of Consequentialism’, Mind 102, 101-122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  90. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy: July 21, 2008,
  91. Strauss, C.: 1992, ‘Models and Motives’, in R.G. D’Andrade and C. Strauss (eds.), Human Motives and Cultural Models (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge), pp. 45-58.Google Scholar
  92. Strauss, A. and J. Corbin: 1990, Basis of Qualitative Research: Grounded Theory Procedures and Techniques, (Sage, London).Google Scholar
  93. Swanton, C.: 2003, Virtue Ethics: A Pluralistic View, (Oxford University Press, Oxford).Google Scholar
  94. Toulmin, S.: 1958, The Uses of Argument, (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge).Google Scholar
  95. Trevino, L.K.: 1986, ‘Ethical Decision Making in Organizations: A Person-Situation Interactionist Model’, Academy of Management Review 11, 601-617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  96. Trevino, L.K.: 1992, ‘Moral Reasoning and Business Ethics: Implications for Research, Education, and Management’, Journal of Business Ethics 11, 445-459.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  97. Ulmer, W.F. 2005, ‘Comparing Military and Business Leaders’, Leadership in Action 25(1), 18-19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  98. Williamson, J.N.: 1986: The Leader-Manager, (John Wiley & Sons, Inc, New York, NY).Google Scholar
  99. Wood, D.J.: 1991, ‘Corporate Social Performance Revisited’, Academy of Management Review 16(4): 691–718.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Richard P. Bagozzi
    • 1
  • Leslie E. Sekerka
    • 2
    Email author
  • Vanessa Hill
    • 3
  1. 1.Marketing Group, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, Clinical and Social and Administrative Sciences, College of PharmacyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborU.S.A.
  2. 2.Departments of Management and PsychologyMenlo CollegeAthertonU.S.A.
  3. 3.Department of ManagementB.I. Moody III College of Business Administration, University of Louisiana, LafayetteLafayetteU.S.A.

Personalised recommendations