Social Justice Research

, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 285–307

Building Houses on Rocks: The Role of the Ethical Infrastructure in Organizations

  • Ann E. Tenbrunsel
  • Kristin Smith-Crowe
  • Elizabeth E. Umphress

DOI: 10.1023/A:1025992813613

Cite this article as:
Tenbrunsel, A.E., Smith-Crowe, K. & Umphress, E.E. Social Justice Research (2003) 16: 285. doi:10.1023/A:1025992813613


We present and discuss a theoretical model of an organization's ethical infrastructure, defined as the organizational elements that contribute to an organization's ethical effectiveness. We propose that the infrastructure is composed of both formal and informal elements—including communication, surveillance, and sanctioning systems—as well as organizational climates for ethics, respect, and justice. We discuss the nature of the relationship between these elements and ethical behavior, the relative strength of each of these elements, and their impact on each other. Theoretical and practical implications of this model are presented.

ethics communication sanctioning climate justice respect 

Copyright information

© Plenum Publishing Corporation 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ann E. Tenbrunsel
    • 1
  • Kristin Smith-Crowe
    • 2
  • Elizabeth E. Umphress
    • 3
  1. 1.Mendoza College of BusinessUniversity of Notre DameNotre Dame
  2. 2.Tulane UniversityNew Orleans
  3. 3.Texas A&M UniversityCollege Station

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