Personal Morality at Work

  • Barbara Goodwin
Part of the Issues in Business Ethics book series (IBET, volume 16)


This chapter deals with congruences and conflicts between personal morality and organisational values. Section 1 considers the ethical concerns expressed by participants. In Section 2, I look first at some aggregate data on the moral beliefs of individuals working in the eight organisations, and then at the beliefs professed by participants in each particular organisation. In Section 3, the moral dilemmas and solutions described by participants are examined. In Section 4 their views on whistleblowing are discussed, with some examples of when participants did blow the whistle. Section 5 offers conclusions. This chapter answers questions such as these: what are the most common moral beliefs? Do employees’ moral standards lead to problems at work and how do they resolve these? How do people react when told to do something they consider immoral? Do organisations attract and recruit people with compatible beliefs? What are the most morally difficult decisions? Are most people moral relativists these days? What tempts people to whistleblow?


Moral Belief Moral Issue Moral Dilemma Golden Rule Moral Concern 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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  1. 6.
    S. Bok (1980) Lying, Quartet Books, London, p. 93, footnote.Google Scholar
  2. 7.
    D. Selboume (1994) The Principle of Duty, Sinclair-Stevenson, London;Google Scholar
  3. 7a.
    A. Etzioni (1994) The Spirit of Community, Simon & Schuster, Hemel Hempstead. Both books are based on pessimism about modern society and claim a decline in moral standards.Google Scholar
  4. 7b.
    Another ‘pessimistic’ book is The Loss of Virtue: Moral Confusion and Social Disorder in Britain and America, ed. D. Anderson (1992) Social Affairs Unit, London, which is written from a right-wing, hand-wringing perspective.Google Scholar
  5. 8.
    S. Bok (1981) Blowing the whistle, in J.L. Fleishman, L. Liebman & M. Moore (eds.), Public Duties: the Moral Obligations of Government Officials, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, Mass., p. 208.Google Scholar
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    Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998 (chapter 23), 1999 edition, Public Concern at Work and Sweet & Maxwell, London, p. 4.Google Scholar
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    Ibid., p. 4. The book gives an interesting account of some cases where whistleblowing could have prevented disaster.Google Scholar
  8. 11.
    Thomas Hobbes, in Leviathan (1651) ch.xiii, famously describes the ‘state of nature’, a community without government, as a war ‘of every man against every man’.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Barbara Goodwin
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.University of East AngliaNorwichUK
  2. 2.Henley Management CollegeUK

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