Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 29, Issue 3, pp 199–211 | Cite as

Codes of Ethics as Signals for Ethical Behavior

  • Janet S. Adams
  • Armen Tashchian
  • Ted H. Shore


This study investigated effects of codes of ethics on perceptions of ethical behavior. Respondents from companies with codes of ethics (n = 465) rated role set members (top management, supervisors, peers, subordinates, self) as more ethical and felt more encouraged and supported for ethical behavior than respondents from companies without codes (n = 301). Key aspects of the organizational climate, such as supportiveness for ethical behavior, freedom to act ethically, and satisfaction with the outcome of ethical problems were impacted by the presence of an ethics code. The mere presence of a code of ethics appears to have a positive impact on perceptions of ethical behavior in organizations, even when respondents cannot recall specific content of the code.

codes of ethics ethics climate ethics ratings perceptions of ethical behavior role set ratings 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • Janet S. Adams
    • 1
  • Armen Tashchian
    • 1
  • Ted H. Shore
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Management, Coles College of Business AdministrationKennesaw State UniversityKennesawU.S.A.

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