Responsible Leadership and Ethical Decision-Making: Volume 17

Cover of Responsible Leadership and Ethical Decision-Making

Table of contents

(12 chapters)

Recent years have brought significant advances in research on behavioral ethics. However, research on ethical decision making is still in a nascent stage. Our objective in this paper is twofold: First, we argue that the practice of mindfulness may have significant positive effects on ethical decision making in organizations. More specifically, we will discuss the benefits of “reperceiving” – a meta-mechanism in the practice of mindfulness for ethical decision making and we provide an overview of mindfulness research pertaining to ethical decision making. Subsequently, we explore areas in which neuroscience research may inform research on ethics in organizations. We conclude that both neuroscience and mindfulness offer considerable promise to the field of ethical decision making.


Exemplars play a central role in business ethics and ethical decision-making. In general terms, an exemplar is defined as ‘a person or thing to be copied’ and can include persons who have their sense of moral commitment as a core part of their sense of self, take a principled personal stand or a role model or an organisation committed to certain moral standards or other things such as case studies, anecdotes, and even fables and myths. Researchers have used different approaches to explain the role of exemplars in decision-making in general and ethical decision-making in particular. This paper presents evidence of SME managers acknowledging the role of exemplars in the management of their businesses and in their ethical decision-making processes.

Semi-structured, open-ended interviews were conducted in an exploratory manner with 20 owners/senior managers of SMEs in Australia. Two types of exemplars were identified in the analysis – individual and organisational, and indicated the prominence of individual exemplars over organisational exemplars. Analysis also suggests the use of multiple exemplars, learning moral behaviours, getting inspired, learning ethical decision-making skills and the ability to retrieve exemplar representations from memory to influence judgements and decisions.

This study provides an insight into one of the methods employed by SME managers in ethical decision-making. Findings could be useful in making SME managers aware of their penchant of using exemplars. The paper contributes to the knowledge in the area of one of the many methods that SME managers use in ethical decision-making.


The purpose of this paper is to suggest that the case of General Guillaume-Henri Dufour may offer useful ideas for the development of responsible leadership in military ethics. Military ethics is a field of growing importance. And in the military profession, leadership is particularly valued. The systematic and continuing production of leaders at all levels is a constant task of military forces in any country, and the need for leaders who are responsible and ethical is not only desirable, but also essential – as a variety of ethical failures have shown us.

Guillaume-Henri Dufour was a decorated soldier serving Switzerland as a general, who founded a military academy and trained others in the military sciences, who served as a politician, and who contributed noted achievements in the fields of cartography and civil engineering. A short sketch of his life is provided, and then focus turns to two specific occasions: the Sonderbund War and the agreement for the Geneva Convention for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded in Armies in the Field.


This paper describes how Business and Society, a compulsory subject for all undergraduate students in an Australian business school, is used for a transformational approach. We explain how reflection is central in both the objectives and the pedagogy of the subject. Students conduct individual research projects and present that in a two-minute video presentation. The reflective activities are not only designed to develop a capability for reflection but also to show how reflection is an integral part of professional practice, grounded in the concept of reflection as “turning things over in the mind to a purpose,” after John Dewey. Developing these activities has required the teaching staff to reflect on the effectiveness and relevance of these aspects and to examine the various ways in which “reflection” is used in tertiary education. In the paper, we describe and explain some of the distinctive features of the course, and explain the practical, but conceptually sound, approach to ethics which underpins the design and teaching and show how it is possible to address the notions of the good life in a plural society. We also consider questions of assessment, including the assessment of reflective capacity and issues of moderation with large classes and multiple markers.


With increasing ethical issues and global corporate scandals, many organisations are now looking to employ well-rounded professionals, who take ownership of their workplace while leading with their heart and soul. These organisations seem to be more concerned with relationship building and future employability (Cunha, Rego, & D’Oliveira, 2006) and are interested in the concept of spirituality with the hope that it could address ethical issues influencing their businesses.

‘Spirituality and ethics are core values that have shaped human life from time immemorial’ (Mahadevan, 2013, p. 91). Ethics and spirituality are interrelated but different as ethics is about customs and habits, while spirituality is concerned with personal meaningful experiences and differs from person to person, making it hard to define.

Organisations moving towards spirituality require leadership that can develop a spiritual climate and their learning and development has to be top priority (Pawar, 2009).

This requires management education to appreciate the concept of spirituality and like some universities globally, incorporate it within their programmes (Harris & Crossman, 2005).

To explore whether spirituality could be incorporated within the higher education curriculum, my PhD researched academic’s viewpoints in selected faculties within a regional university in Australia. This paper reports some of its findings from the data gathered through semi-structured interviews, with a focus on leadership, its relevance to ethics and the teaching of spirituality. Results indicate that academics support the inclusion of spirituality but the programmes need to be carefully designed.


It has been suggested that the introduction of a universal code of ethics for business, similar to that of the Hippocratic Oath, would encourage business leaders to engage in ethical decisions. The aim of this study is to empirically investigate what future business leaders learn in business school ethics class and to critically examine if there is any correlation between the education that the Hippocratic Oath refers to and modern business ethics education. This quantitative study surveyed 128 academics that teach ethics to business students in 29 Australian universities in order to find out what business students learn when they study ethics in business schools.

The study found such an overall inconsistency in business ethics education that no specific conclusions can be made apart from concluding that there is no uniform and universal standard into the discipline of ethics and what it teaches. The experts are mainly split between the view that ethics education is about teaching critical thinking or that it is about learning academic and theoretical aspects of the discipline of ethics. A third of the experts also thought the purpose of ethics education was to teach ethical conduct.

This paper also argues that the laissez-faire approach about ethics education from Association for Advancement of Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) has marginalised business ethics education as business schools overwhelmingly tend to scattering ethics topics superficially and incoherently across the curriculum. The study argues that it is critical to establish a universal standard in business ethics education in order to ensure future ethical business leaders and that the first step is to determine a universal definition of ethics.


The purpose of this paper is to examine the question of parents’ rights to make choices regarding the education and upbringing of their children.

Article 26(3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: ‘Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children’. However, authors including Joel Feinberg also argue children have a right to an ‘open future’, implying parents and the state have obligations to ensure certain elements are present in a child’s care and education. Commodifying education and early childhood care where it occurs in many developed societies, ostensibly provides parents with greater choice regarding the education and upbringing of their children. However, following the work of Brenda Almond, I argue that parents do have some rights to make choices about the care and education of their children. But just having the freedom to choose from alternative schooling or caring options may be insufficient to provide a choice in any significant sense, if one is only choosing between service providers all offering essentially the same service.

It would seem then, that responsible leadership and ethical decision-making by the state and by service providers requires them to engage in consultation with parents and facilitate their participation in determining the nature and content of educational and developmental programmes for children.

Leaders in these roles will also need to have a strong sense of the competing demands on content coming from this array of ethical requirements.


The purpose of this paper is to examine the ethical and leadership challenges arising from revelations of child sexual abuse in the 1970s and 1980s at an Australian Satyananda Yoga ashram. This paper responds to the Royal Commission’s exposition of child abuse at an Australian yoga ashram and was the first such investigation involving a faith-based organisation outside the churches.

This paper provides a critical cultural analysis of the findings of the Australian Government Royal Commission into child abuse in relation to Satyananda Yoga. Particular practices and values associated with Satyananda Yoga may have served to foster and mask widespread abuse.

This paper should generate discourse within the yoga community at both the grassroots level and within the upper hierarchy. It outlines the importance of critical awareness among teachers and students. It is hoped that the paper will help to catalyse a reparation process for survivors of child sexual abuse. It is also suggested that yoga academies re-evaluate practices and values that have been used to justify abuse.

Satyananda Yoga’s ethical and leadership challenges warrant broader research than was undertaken for this paper. The still unresolved matter of reparations for survivors of abuse needs urgent consideration.


What is the relationship between human rights and corruption? This question can take different forms, including moral, legal, socio-political and economic variants. This paper focuses on two key moral questions, asking whether corruption can violate or impact on people’s natural rights (on the one hand) or human rights (on the other). In answer, I aim to establish a strong conceptual link between (a) corruption’s ‘abuse of entrusted power’; (b) the ‘arbitrary power’ targeted by natural rights theorists like John Locke and the broader republican tradition and (c) the ‘arbitrary interference’ with protected freedoms prohibited by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. I argue that the deep thematic links between systemic corruption and violations of human rights are stronger than have hitherto been recognized. In the twenty-first century, corruption should be recognized as a ‘standard threat’ (in Shue’s sense) to human flourishing and protected freedoms, vindicating the human right to freedom from systemic corruption.


The hospital practice of placing male and female patients in the same room in general wards, and sometimes in adjoining beds, is an index of the extent to which lack of respect for patient dignity remains a key issue within our hospitals notwithstanding the popularity of ethics as a formal subject and topic of discussion, and the rise of ethics as a career subspecialty in our healthcare system. In this study, we examine responses from those who consider the practice acceptable notwithstanding patients’ objections. These can be classified into the following groups: (1) a necessary trade-off in the interests of economic or efficiency factors such as staff shortages or bed shortages or bed-block, (2) failure to see what is wrong with the practice such as “wonderful free health system,” “patients should be grateful for what they get,” and “the insured can go elsewhere,” and (3) it is the patient’s fault for not objecting. The fact that the practice has continued for 15 years, means there is now an entire generation of hospital staff who accept it as normal and participate in it, to the detriment of patients. Accordingly, this paper is a cautionary tale with regard to allowing what is generally regarded as “off-limits” to occur and relying on protocols to contain the activities they unleash.

Cover of Responsible Leadership and Ethical Decision-Making
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Research in Ethical Issues in Organizations
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Emerald Publishing Limited
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