Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 132, Issue 1, pp 233–248 | Cite as

Exploring the Socio-moral Climate in Organizations: An Empirical Examination of Determinants, Consequences, and Mediating Mechanisms

  • Armin Pircher VerdorferEmail author
  • Brigitte Steinheider
  • David Burkus


During the last decade, an increasing amount of research has focused on the ethical context in organizations. Among the recent approaches in this area is the construct of socio-moral climate (SMC), which adopts a developmental perspective and refers to specific elements of organizational climate that include communication, cooperation, and how organizations handle conflict. In this article, we present the results of three empirical studies, shedding light on the nomological network of SMC. Whereas the first study introduces a short SMC measure, the other two studies examined antecedents and outcomes of SMC as well as related mediating mechanisms. Confirmatory factor analysis revealed good fit indices of the 21-item measure of SMC with five subscales. Structural equation modeling confirmed a strong relationship with servant leadership as antecedent to SMC. In turn, employees who perceived a positive SMC were less likely to experience feelings of organizational cynicism and to engage in deviant behaviors. Results indicate that SMC accounted for additional variance above and beyond perceived overall justice.


Socio-moral climate Ethical context Servant leadership Organizational cynicism Workplace deviance Overall justice 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Armin Pircher Verdorfer
    • 1
    Email author
  • Brigitte Steinheider
    • 2
  • David Burkus
    • 3
  1. 1.Research and Science Management, TUM School of ManagementTechnische Universität MünchenMunichGermany
  2. 2.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Oklahoma, Tulsa Graduate CollegeTulsaUSA
  3. 3.College of BusinessOral Roberts UniversityTulsaUSA

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