Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 156, Issue 2, pp 377–397 | Cite as

Three Levels of Ethical Influences on Selling Behavior and Performance: Synergies and Tensions

  • Selma Kadic-MaglajlicEmail author
  • Milena Micevski
  • Nick Lee
  • Nathaniel Boso
  • Irena Vida
Original Paper


In general, the business ethics literature has treated the conceptual domains and outcomes of macro-level (industrial), meso-level (organizational), and micro-level (individual) ethical influence separately. However, this singular treatment ignores the synergies and tensions that can arise across these different types of ethical influence. Using sales as a research context, the current study argues that all three ethical frames of references are important in shaping employee behavior and performance and, as such, should be examined simultaneously. The findings show that industrial ethical climate and salesperson moral equity are positively associated with salesperson customer orientation. In addition, industrial and organizational ethical norms have a stronger joint effect on customer orientation than either ethical climate alone. More specifically, a more ethical organizational climate enhances the positive effects of the industrial ethical climate on customer orientation. Furthermore, whereas salesperson moral equity is significantly associated with salesperson customer orientation, strong moral equity beliefs in situations requiring adaptive selling result in weaker sales outcomes. This study concludes with a set of theoretical and actionable implications, as well as a discussion of future research avenues.


Industrial ethical climate Organizational ethical climate Moral equity belief Customer orientation Adaptive selling Salespeople 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Selma Kadic-Maglajlic
    • 1
    Email author
  • Milena Micevski
    • 2
  • Nick Lee
    • 3
  • Nathaniel Boso
    • 4
  • Irena Vida
    • 5
  1. 1.School of Economics and BusinessUniversity of SarajevoSarajevoBosnia and Herzegovina
  2. 2.Department of International Marketing, Faculty of Business, Economics and StatisticsUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria
  3. 3.Warwick Business SchoolUniversity of WarwickCoventryUK
  4. 4.Leeds University Business SchoolUniversity of LeedsLeedsUK
  5. 5.Faculty of EconomicsUniversity of LjubljanaLjubljanaSlovenia

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