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Ethical decision -making: The effects of temporal immediacy, perspective -taking, moral courage and ethical work climate

Jeremy S Wortman, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


Research on time in the organizational behavior field is relatively new and has been found to have a significant impact on an individual's decision-making. In particular, research demonstrates that the time span between making a decision and the onset of its consequences influence individuals' evaluation process and they may even compromise their own principles when making a decision. In today's corporate environment where time is a limited resource, individuals may be influenced to compromise their ethical standards and ultimately impact him/herself and other stakeholders. ^ The focus of this dissertation is to investigate the possible influence of the temporal immediacy dimension of moral intensity (Jones, 1991) as well as both individual differences and contextual factors on the ethical decision-making process. Specifically, the following research questions will be investigated: (1) What effect does the temporal immediacy dimension of a situation have on the ethical decision-making process? (2) To what degree does organizational ethical climate context influence the ethical decision-making process? (3) How do individual factors (i.e. perspective-taking and moral courage) influence the ethical decision-making process? ^ The hypotheses were examined using vignettes and questionnaires from a sample of employees from a large financial and information technology organization (N=842). The findings suggest that temporal immediacy does impact an individual's moral recognition but only if the individual has prior experience with the moral dilemma. Additionally, individual differences such as perspective-taking and moral courage were found to enhance the ethical decision-making process. Integration with previous literature and implications for future research and managers are discussed. ^

Subject Area

Business Administration, Management

Recommended Citation

Wortman, Jeremy S, "Ethical decision -making: The effects of temporal immediacy, perspective -taking, moral courage and ethical work climate" (2006). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3213325.