Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 129, Issue 1, pp 77–92 | Cite as

Does an Ethical Work Context Generate Internal Social Capital?

  • David Pastoriza
  • Miguel A. Arino
  • Joan E. Ricart
  • Miguel A. Canela


Ethics has recently gained importance in the debate over social capital creation. The goal of this study is to empirically examine the ethical work context of the firm as an antecedent of the firm’s internal social capital. We build on person–situation interactionist theory to argue that individuals can learn standards of appropriate behavior induced by the ethical work context in which they are embedded. By creating an ethical work context, managers can facilitate the process through which employees learn to feel empathy toward others and establish profound affective relationships with them. Data were collected from 1,817 individuals in 36 business units of 7 Spanish, French, and Portuguese corporations. Using structural equation and hierarchical linear modeling techniques, our results reveal three phenomena. First, we show that a business unit’s ethical work context exerts significant influence on the structural, relational, and cognitive dimensions of internal social capital. Second, the managerial practices that constitute the ethical work context are not equally important across the seven corporations; in particular, managerial practices are more influential in those corporations that belong to knowledge-intensive industries. Third, a business unit’s internal social capital is influenced not only by the business unit’s ethical work context, but also by the ethical work context of the corporation to which it belongs.


Internal social capital Ethical work context Managerial practices Structural equation modeling Hierarchical linear modeling 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • David Pastoriza
    • 1
  • Miguel A. Arino
    • 2
  • Joan E. Ricart
    • 2
  • Miguel A. Canela
    • 2
  1. 1.HEC MontrealMontrealCanada
  2. 2.IESE Business SchoolBarcelonaSpain

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