An Examination of the Relationship Between Ethical Work Climate and Moral Awareness
Author(s)VanSandt, Craig V.
Contributor(s)Richard E. Wokutch, Ph.D.
Bart Victor, Ph.D.
John P. Christman, Ph.D.
Eloise Coupey, Ph.D.
Jon M. Shepard, Ph.D.
Carroll U. Stephens, Ph.D.
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AbstractABSTRACT An Examination of the Relationship Between Ethical Work Climate and Moral Awareness by Craig V. VanSandt Jon M. Shepard, Chair This dissertation draws from the fields of history, sociology, psychology, moral philosophy, and organizational theory to establish a theoretical connection between a social/organizational influence (Ethical Work Climate) and an individual cognitive element of moral behavior (moral awareness). The research was designed to help fill a gap in the existing literature by providing empirical evidence of the connection between organizational influences and individual ethical choices, which has heretofore largely been merely assumed. Additional aspects of moral behavior beyond moral judgment, as suggested by the Four Component Model (Rest, 1994) were investigated. Extensively relying on the work of Victor and Cullen (1987, 1988), Rest (1979, 1986, 1994), and Blum (1991, 1994), seven hypotheses were formulated and tested to determine the nature of the direct relationship between the organizational level Ethical Work Climate and individual level moral awareness, and that relationship as moderated by four demographic and individual variables. Seven of the climate types identified by Cullen, Victor, and Bronson (1993) were replicated in the present study. All three of the hypotheses pertaining to the direct relationship between Ethical Work Climate and moral awareness were supported, as were three of the four hypotheses related to the moderating variables. These results provide evidence that Ethical Work Climate is a primary predictor of individual moral awareness, and that social influence often overrides the effects of individual differences is a work group setting. Implications for future research are provided.