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Continuities and Extensions of Ethical Climate Theory: A Meta-Analytic Review

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Abstract

Using traditional meta-analytic techniques, we compile relevant research to enhance conceptual appreciation of ethical climate theory (ECT) as it has been studied in the descriptive and applied ethics literature. We explore the various treatments of ethical climate to understand how the theoretical framework has developed. Furthermore, we provide a comprehensive picture of how the theory has been extended by describing the individual-level work climate outcomes commonly studied in this theoretical context. Meta-analysis allows us to resolve inconsistencies in previous findings as well as confirm the central tenets of the overall ethical climate framework. In addition, we consider the ethical climate relationships in the larger context of the␣theoretical framework, using path analysis to test the structural relationships. Overall, our results provide evidence of the relationships between ethical climate perceptions and individual-level work outcomes. Based on our analyses, we offer future research directions important for further development of ECT.

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Correspondence to Kelly D. Martin.

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Kelly D. Martin is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Marketing at Washington State University in Pullman, Washington. Her research interests involve understanding ethical challenges for firms and how these impact marketing strategy formulation. She is also interested in the marketing interface with the external environment, especially in light of turbulence and change. Her research has been presented at␣American Marketing Association Educators' Conferences, the Society for Business Ethics Annual Meeting, and the International Interdisciplinary conference on the Environment.

John B. Cullen is Professor of Management at Washington State University. Dr. Cullen is the author or co-author of four books and over 50 journal articles, appearing in journals such as Administrative Science Quarterly, Journal of International Business Studies, Academy of Management Journal, Journal of Management, and others. His major research interests include the management of trust and commitment in international strategic alliances, ethical climates in multinational organizations, and the dynamics of organizational structure. Professor Cullen has served on the editorial boards of the Academy of Management Journal and Advances in International Comparative Management Journal and reviews for major journals in management and international business.

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Martin, K.D., Cullen, J.B. Continuities and Extensions of Ethical Climate Theory: A Meta-Analytic Review. J Bus Ethics 69, 175–194 (2006). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-006-9084-7

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