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The Effectiveness of Business Codes: A Critical Examination of Existing Studies and the Development of an Integrated Research Model

Abstract

Business codes are a widely used management instrument. Research into the effectiveness of business codes has, however, produced conflicting results. The main reasons for the divergent findings are: varying definitions of key terms; deficiencies in the empirical data and methodologies used; and a lack of theory. In this paper, we propose an integrated research model and suggest directions for future research.

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Correspondence to Muel Kaptein.

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Muel Kaptein is Professor of Business Ethics and Integrity Management at the Department of Business-Society Management at RSM Erasmus University. His research interests include the management of ethics, the measurement of ethics and the ethics of management. He has published papers in the Journal of Business Ethics, Business & Society, Organization Studies, Academy of Management Review, Business & Society Review, Corporate Governance, Policing, Public Integrity, and European Management Journal. He is the author of the books Ethics Management (Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1998),The Balanced Company (Oxford University Press, 2002), and The Six Principles of Managing with Integrity (Spiro Press, 2005). Muel is also director at KPMG Integrity, where he assisted more than 40 companies in developing their business code.

Mark S. Schwartz is Assistant Professor of Goverance, Law and Ethics at the Atkinson School of Administrative Studies at York University (Toronto). His research interests include corporate ethics programs, ethical leadership, and corporate social responsibility. He has published papers in the Journal of Business Ethics, Business & Society, Business Ethics Quarterly, Professional Ethics, and the Journal of Management History, and is a co-author of the textbook Business Ethics: Readings and Cases in Corporate Morality (McGraw Hill). He is also a Research Fellow of the Center of Business Ethics (Bentley College) and the Business Ethics Center of Jerusalem (Jerusalem College of Technology).

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Kaptein, M., Schwartz, M.S. The Effectiveness of Business Codes: A Critical Examination of Existing Studies and the Development of an Integrated Research Model. J Bus Ethics 77, 111–127 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-006-9305-0

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Keywords

  • codes
  • effectiveness
  • values
  • norms
  • ethics