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Who defines ethics in your organization?

Rowena Crosbie (President, Tero® International, Inc., Des Moines, Iowa, USA)

Industrial and Commercial Training

ISSN: 0019-7858

Article publication date: 13 June 2008




The purpose of this paper is to explore ethics at work and present the inherent challenges facing both leaders and learning professionals in encouraging ethical behavior.


Survey results are presented that reveal large numbers of people who consider themselves ethical also confess to lying, cheating and stealing. Five practical tips are provided to help learning professionals address these contradictions.


People often rationalize their bad behavior, after the fact, to preserve their own internal beliefs that their behavior is indeed on high moral ground. This reality presents unique challenges for those charged with defining ethics in organizations.

Research limitations/implications

The 2006 survey, conducted by the Josephson Institute of Ethics (the CHARACTER COUNTS!SM organization) was extensive in that it involved over 35,000 respondents. While it paints a picture of the future workforce and informs readers of associated challenges, it does not include representatives of the current workforce.

Practical implications

Organizations seeking to promote ethics must translate their values statements into specific behavioral terms and provide training to help leaders and employees alike clearly understand and demonstrate the desired culture.


This paper provides an analysis of research around (un)ethical behavior of the members of the future workforce, along with useful actionable steps for learning professionals.



Crosbie, R. (2008), "Who defines ethics in your organization?", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 40 No. 4, pp. 181-187.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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