Business ethics: the process of making a moral decision in the workplace
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AbstractThis research investigates the process of making a moral decision in the workplace, the influences upon it and the nature of its structure. Existing literature is reviewed relating to the nature of a decision, theories of moral philosophy and the psychology of individual moral development and the influence of membership of groups and organisations. Supported by a social constructionist methodology, sixteen informants are inter-viewed and involved in producing a cognitive map of a particular decision which they have made within their employment situation. Their narratives and their maps are then analysed. Four themes emerge relating to gender, emotions, virtues and membership of communities. On gender, general support is indicated of Gilligan's theory relating to ethics of justice (predominantly male) and of care (predominantly female). The process of cognitive mapping highlights the way in which informants tend to include their emotions around their decision as an acceptable influence within the context of the overall situation. At the same time, informants refer frequently to the need to be virtuous in some respect, confirming the key principles of virtue theory. Finally, the decisions shared with the researcher demonstrate that the difficulties of the decisions relate to the influence of being members of different communities and serve to emphasise the tension that often exists between an individual with her personal values and her employing organisation which requires her to conform to behaviour which is underpinned by conflicting values. This research seeks to illuminate the subject in a holistic way, using a qualitative approach and aiming to avoid the compartmentalisation of elements of influences within the whole process of making a moral decision in the workplace, an inevitable result of using the more dominant quantitative methods within current business ethics research. In doing so, it demonstrates that there is no one specific identifiable process and that there are many different ways of making such a decision.
PublisherUniversity of Wolverhampton
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the requirements of the University of Wolverhampton for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
Except where otherwise noted, this item's license is described as https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/