Pub. date: 2007 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412952651 | Print ISBN: 9781412924702 | Online ISBN: 9781412952651| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Robert G. Jones
Corporate ethics can be defined in several ways: conceptually, operationally, officially, and actually. Conceptual arguments about the definition of organizational ethics focus on questions of stakeholder status and are defined by two theories, stakeholder theory and social contracts theory. Operational approaches to increasing ethical behavior in organizations may be more or less proactive and are structured around organizational mission and legal compliance. Official ethical standards articulated by organizational leaders may include ethical codes, but they are arguably less important than actual ethical expectations, which are closely intertwined with organizational culture. Each of these approaches to understanding corporate ethics will be addressed in turn, followed by discussion of cultural differences in values that undergird ethical norms and codes of conduct. Social influences and organizational practices that may affect ethical behavior unintentionally or without reference to formal ethical controls will also be considered. Scholarship in corporate ethics falls into two general disciplines: ...