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Ethical decision‐making: an integrative model for business practice

J.R.C. Pimentel (Department of Psychology, University of Canterbury, Christchurch, New Zealand)
J.R. Kuntz (Department of Philosophy, The University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, UK)
Detelin S. Elenkov (Department of Management and Marketing, Angelo State University, San Angelo, Texas, USA)

European Business Review

ISSN: 0955-534X

Article publication date: 29 June 2010




The purpose of this paper is to offer an interdisciplinary review of the existing research on ethical behavior – informed by philosophical theories, social sciences, and applied business research – and identifies the merits and limitations of the extant theories, including the applicability of prescriptive frameworks and models to business practice.


Following the review, the paper advances a descriptive model of ethical decision‐making criteria that elucidates how individual, organizational, and environmental variables interact to influence attitude formation across critical components of an ethical issue.


The model advanced expands upon other existing frameworks and provides a comprehensive and simultaneous assessment of the interplay between individual‐level variables (e.g. demographic variables, position in the organisation), the structure and climate of the organisation in which the decisions are made, and the social and political features of the business environment.

Practical implications

The proposed model can be used as a training tool and it holds several advantages over the extant alternatives, namely versatility (it is adaptable to the specific organizational context in which respondents are required to conceptualize the dilemma and generate courses of action), and scope (the model allows for the simultaneous assessment of a myriad of cross‐level variables).


The paper offers a comprehensive decision‐making model that can be used to examine ethical decisions in business settings, to investigate potential differences in decision‐making accuracy and ethical reasoning between groups and individuals, and to examine the impact of changing ethical climates in organizational strategy.



Pimentel, J.R.C., Kuntz, J.R. and Elenkov, D.S. (2010), "Ethical decision‐making: an integrative model for business practice", European Business Review, Vol. 22 No. 4, pp. 359-376.



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