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Scalpels Not Machetes: A Call for the Use of Precision Tools in Ethics Research

Business Ethics

ISBN: 978-1-78973-684-7, eISBN: 978-1-78973-683-0

Publication date: 7 June 2019


Drawing on Bandwidth Fidelity Theory (Cronbach, 1970; Cronbach & Gleser, 1965), this chapter argues for more specificity with regard to conceptualizing and measuring variables in the field of behavioral ethics. We provide an example of how this might be accomplished, by building on recent work on organizational support that emphasizes more specific facets of perceived organizational support (POS). We introduce the concept of perceived organizational support for ethics (POS-E) and test its predictive power on a sample of 4,315 employees from manufacturing and technology firms. We find support for our assertions that ethics-specific support is a better predictor of ethics-related outcomes (e.g., pressure to violate ethical standards, preparedness to handle ethical violations) and general support (POS) is a better predictor of more general organizational outcomes (i.e., job satisfaction). Theoretical and practical implications of these results and the importance of moving toward more specific versus general constructs in the field of behavioral ethics are discussed.



Taylor, R.M., Schminke, M., Soenen, G. and Ambrose, M.L. (2019), "Scalpels Not Machetes: A Call for the Use of Precision Tools in Ethics Research", Business Ethics (Business and Society 360, Vol. 3), Emerald Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 323-350.



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