Term Paper: Ethics in the Workplace

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[. . .] Employees have been known to commit unethical acts under pressure of their personal perceptions, co-workers behavior and beliefs and organizational policies and expectations.

A study conducted by Pierce and Henry (2000) aimed at a sample of students and CT professional to study the effect of co-workers and organizational averages on an individual's perception of ethically right or wrong judgments. The samples were selected from over three hundred Association of Information Technology professionals (AITP) members and were observed in situations where the use of ethical judgment was present. The samples were asked to express their personal judgment or course of action in a situation demanding ethical decision, to choose what their co-workers would do in a similar situation and their perception and interpretation of the organization's judgment and response in the said situations. The samples were questioned through a questionnaire using a scale from approval to disapproval to provide a guided scenario-based response, minimize the presence of differences and measure the aggregate response of people in terms of their acceptance or rejection of an action or statement. The respondents were sent the questionnaire along with a cover letter defining the purpose of the study and information relating to filling the questionnaire. The questionnaire and cover letter was sent to two thousand five hundred and fifty one random AITP members. Out of the entire sample around 14% or 356 responses were received. A few questionnaires were not completely answered therefore incomplete questionnaires were not included in the study. The findings were quoted to be 'interesting' (Pierce and Henry, 2000), and there was a pattern noted amongst those who worked governed by a specific set of codes, and those who worked without them. It was also noted that an individual's personal perceptions differed from those of his/her co-worker's perceptions and those of an organization's. The samples also indicated that an individual did see co-workers beliefs and behaviors and organization's expectations of an individual to be different and not related to each other. An individual did prove to know that their own actions would differ from their co-worker's actions and the organization's actions. Differences were also noted amongst individuals working under a code of conduct and those who were not. To closely study these patterns respondents were categorized into groups of those that did abide by codes and those who don't. The differences were found in six out of nine scenarios presented in the questionnaire. Over all employees abiding by a code of conduct seemed to disapprove more towards certain situations as compared to employees not abiding by any code of conduct. The latter often approved slightly unethical behavior, while the former seemed to be very strict about ethics. The differences amongst the two groups were reduced when it came to the approval and disapproval of an organization's averages. The findings show that there are various differences in an individual's judgment for self, for their co-worker's judgments and for the organization's judgments.

To rectify such ethical errors Pierce and Henry (2000) suggest implementing a code of ethical conduct to be used in organizations which outline the behavior and repercussions of violation of the code, also setting standards and practices that coincide for all three variables i.e. The employee, the co-workers and the employer/organization, and thirdly to make sure that the set standards and practices work cohesively with the code of ethical conduct established. Observing, studying and proof testing these procedures over regular intervals and improving on them to increase effectiveness is also considered important to prevent any shortcomings.


Harrington, S.J., (1996), 'The effect of codes of Ethics and Personal Denial of responsibility on Computer abuse Judgments and Intention', Management Information Systems Quaterly, Volume 20(03), pages 257-278.

Horvath, C.M., (1999), 'Macro and Micro: the emerging field of organizational ethics', The online journal of Ethics, September 17. Accessed on 25th September 2011 from http://www.depaul.edu/ethics/ethgl.html

Paradice, D.B., (1990), 'Ethical Attitudes of entry level Management Information System personnel', Information and Management, Volume 18, pages 143-151.

Pierce, M.A. And Henry, J.W., (2000), 'Judgments about computer Ethics: Do individuals, co-worker, and company judgments differ? Do company codes make a difference?', Journal of Business Ethics, December, Volume 28(04), pages 307-322

Sims, R.L. And Keon, T.L., (1999), 'Determinates of ethical decision making: The relationship of the perceived organizational environment', Journal of Business Ethics, Volume 19, pages 393-401.

Victor, B. And Cullen, J.B., (1988), 'The organizational basis of Ethical Work Climates', Administrative Science… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Ethics in the Workplace.  (2011, September 26).  Retrieved June 26, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/ethics-workplace/3301024

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