The conceptualization and measurement of philosophical approaches that influence ethical decision making in the work context: Part 1

  • Estelle Boshoff Department of Industrial Psychology, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein
  • Martina Kotzé Department of Industrial Psychology, Faculty of Economic and Management Sciences, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein
Keywords: Unethical/ethical behaviour, Work ethics, Ethical decision-making, Ethical issues in the work context, Philosophical approaches that influence ethical decision-making


The negative consequences which unethical behaviour holds for organizations necessitates a focus on ethical issues within the work context, as well as factors which may have an influence on ethical be- haviour. Regarding individual factors, researchers indicate that the individual’s ethical decision-making philosophy influences the manner in which ethical problems are managed and behavioural decisions are made. The aim of this article (which forms part of a research project consisting of four parts) is therefore to investigate, by means of a thorough literature review, the ethical issues that organizations mostly face, as well as the philosophical decision-making approaches that may influence ethical decision making in the work context, and to integrate these approaches within a holistic framework of ethical decision making. Six main philosophical approaches together with certain corresponding sub-approaches that may influence ethical decision making in the workplace were identified and integrated within a holistic framework of ethical decision making. 


Download data is not yet available.


Appelbaum, S.H. & Shapiro, B.T. 2006. Diagnosis and Remedies for Deviant Workplace Behaviors. The Journal of American Academy of Business, 9(2): 14-20.

Aristotle. 1972. The Nicomachean Ethics of Aristotle (translated by D. Ross). London: Oxford University Press.

Aristotle. 1977. The Ethics of Aristotle: The Nicomachean Ethics. (translated by J.A.K. Thomson, revised by H. Tredennick). England: Penguin Books.

Ashley, P., Powers, C. & Schunter, M. 2002. From Privacy Promises to Privacy Management. Proceedings of the 2002 workshop on New security paradigms, Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Babbie, E. & Mouton, J. 2004. The practice of social research. Cape Town: Oxford University Press.

Bandura, A. 1977. Social Learning Theory. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.

Boshoff, E. 2009. Die ontwikkeling van ‘n werksetiekvraelys gebaseer op ‘n holistiese filosofiese model van etiese besluitneming. Unpublished doctoral thesis, University of the Free State, Bloemfontein.

Cargile, J. 1998. On Consequentialism. In J. Rachels (ed.) Ethical Theory 2: Theories About How We Should Live. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Cascio, W.F. 2003. Managing Human Resources: Productivity, Quality of Work Life, Profits (6th ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Chryssides, G.D. & Kaler, J.H. 2005. An Introduction to Business Ethics. London: Thomson Learning.

Cialdini, R.B., Petrova, P.K. & Goldstein, N.J. 2004. The Hidden Costs of Organisational Dishonesty. MIT Sloan Management review, 67-73.

De Koker, L. 2007. Financial Crime in South Africa. Economic Affairs, 27(1): 34-38.

Desjardins, J. 2006. An Introduction to Business Ethics (2nd ed.). Boston: McGraw-Hill.

Desjardins, J.R. & McCall, J. 1996. Contemporary Issues in Business Ethics (3rd ed.). Belmont: Wadsworth Publishing Company.

Donaldson, T. 1989. The Ethics of International Business. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Donaldson, J. 1992. Business Ethics: A European Casebook. London: Academic Press Inc.

Du Plessis, J.O. 1993. Die Bestuur van Sake-Etiek in die Bankwese. Unpublished masters dissertation. Bloemfontein: University of the Free State.

Economic crime: people, culture and controls. 2007. Price Waterhouse Cooper’s: The 4th biennial Global Economic Crime Survey South Africa. South Africa: Price Waterhouse Coopers.

Esterhuyse, W. 1991. Sake-etiek in die Praktyk. Pretoria: J.L. van Schaik (Edms.) Bpk.

Evans, R. HIRING ON HIGH: Ethics an essential part of the hiring process for property managers. Journal of Property Management. [Online]. Available: pdfviewer?sid=04618d82-b603-42a9-8718-e74bc57dc136%40sessionm gr115&vid=5&hid=126_. Accessed on 27 February 2009.

Freeman, R.E. 1991. Business Ethics: The State of the Art. New York: Oxford University Press.

Garofalo, C. 2003. Toward a global ethic: Perspectives on values, training and moral agency. International Journal of Public Sector Management, 16(7): 490-501.

Garriga, E. & MeleÌ, D. 2004. Corporate Social Responsibility Theories: Mapping the Territory. Journal of Business Ethics, 53: 51-71.

Gewirtz, J.L. & PelaÌez-Nogueras, M. 1991. Proximal Mechanisms Underlying the Acquisition of Moral Behaviour Patterns. In W.M. Kurtines & J.L. Gewirtz (eds.) Handbook of Moral Behaviour and Development. Hillsday, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc., Publishers.

Gibson, K. 2007. Ethics and Business: An Introduction. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Gloek, J.D. & De Jager, H. 2005. Fraud Profiles of public sector institutions in South Africa. Southern African Journal of Accountability and Auditing Research, 6: 49-65.

Gordon, K. & Miyake, M. 2001. Business Approaches to Combating Bribery: A Study of Codes of Conduct. Journal of Business Ethics, 34: 161-173.

Gray, M.M.A. 1996. Moral Theory for Social Work. Social Work, 32(4): 289-295.

Grobler, P.A., Wärnich, S., Carrell, M.R., Elbert, N.F. & Hatfield, R.D. 2002. Human Resource Management in South Africa (2nd ed.). London: Thomson Learning.

Gross-Schaefer, A., Trigilio, J., Negus, J. & Ro, C.S. 2000. Ethics Education in the Workplace: An Effective Tool to Combat Employee Theft. Journal of Business Ethics, 26: 89-100.

Hosmer, L.T. 1991. The Ethics of Management (3rd ed.). Chicago: McGraw- Hill Companies, Inc.

James, H. 2002. When is a Bribe a Bribe? Teaching a Workable Definition of Bribery. Teaching Business Ethics, 6: 199-217.

Kant, I. 1937. Fundamental Principles of the Metaphysics of Ethics (translated by T.K. Abbott). London: Longmans, Green and Co. Ltd.

Kline, J.M. 2005. Ethics for International Business: Decision making in a global political economy. London: Routledge.

Malan, F. & Smit, B. 2001. Ethics and Leadership in Business and Politics. Lansdowne: Juta.

Malloy, D.C. & Zakus, D.H. 1995. Ethical Decision Making in Sport Administration: A Theoretical Inquiry into Substance and Form. Journal of Sport Management, 9: 36-58.

Marette, S., Bureau, J.C. & Gozlan, E. 2000. Product Safety Provision and Consumers’ Information. Australian Economic Papers, University of Adeleide and Flinders University of South Australia.

McCall, J.J. 2006. Deceptive Advertising. In F. Allhoff, & A. Vaidya (eds.) Business Ethics (Volume III). London: SAGE Publications.

Meyer, W.F., Moore, C. & Viljoen, H.G. 1988. Persoonlikheidsteorieë van Freud tot Frankl. Johannesburg: Lexikon Uitgewers (Edms.) Bpk.

Meyer, W.F., Moore, C. & Viljoen, H.G. 2000. Personologie: Van Individu tot Ekosisteem. Sandton: Heinemann Voortgesette Onderwys (Edms.) Bpk.

Möller, A. 1993. Perspektiewe oor Persoonlikheid. Durban: Butterworth Uitgewers (Edms.) Bpk.

Neubeck, K.J. & Glasberg, D.S. 1996. Sociology: A Critical Approach. New York: McGraw-Hill, Inc.

Orme, G. & Ashton, C. 2003. Ethics - a foundation competency. Industrial and Commercial Training, 35(5): 184-190.

Parsons, P.J. 2007. Ethics in Public Relations: A Guide to Best Practice. London: Kogan Page Limited.

Plato wrote this in the time period "Before Christ": As with Aristotle, Plato's initials are unknown. It is not indicated in the book when it was translated. Therefore the reference stays: Plato. (no date). The Republic of Plato (2nd ed.) (translated by A.D. Lindsay). London: J.M. Dent & Co.

Pojman, L.P. 2000. Life and Death: Grappling with the Moral Dilemmas of Our Time (2nd ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Publishing Company.

Rabl, T. & Kühlmann, T.M. 2008. Understanding Corruption in Organisations – Development and Empirical Assessment of an Action Model. Journal of Business Ethics, 82: 477-495.

Rachels, J. 1998. Ethical Theory 2: Theories About How We Should Live. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Rae, S.B. 1995. Moral Choices: An Introduction to Ethics. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House.

Rand, A. 1964. The Virtue of Selfishness: A New Concept of Egoism. New York: The New American Library, Inc.

Rawls, J. 1971. A Theory of Justice. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Rossouw, D. 2002. Business Ethics in Africa (2nd ed.). Cape Town: Oxford University Press.

Rossouw, D., Prozesky, M., Van Heerden, B. & Van Zyl, M. 2006. Ethics for Accountants and Auditors. Cape Town: Oxford University Press.

Rossouw, D. & Van Vuuren, L. 2004. Business Ethics (3rd ed.). Cape Town: Oxford University Press Southern Africa.

Rowan, J.R. 2000. The Moral Foundation of Employee Rights. Journal of Business Ethics, 24: 355-361.

SA capital of white-collar crime. October 16, 2007. Mail and Guardian. [Online]. Available: whitecollar-crime. Accessed on 27 February 2009.

Scanlon, T.M. 1998. Contractualism and Utilitarianism. In J. Rachels (ed.) Ethical Theory 2: Theories About How We Should Live. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Schweitzer, A. 1929. Civilization and Ethics (The Philosophy of Civilization Part II) (translated by C.T. Campion). London: A. and C. Black, Ltd.

Skinner, B.F. 1965. Science and Human Behavior. London: Collier- MacMillan.

Solomon, R.C. 1994. Above the Bottom Line: An Introduction to Business Ethics (2nd ed.).

Orlando: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.

Sorrel, T. & Hendry, J. 1994. Business Ethics. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Squire, D. 2007. Corporate Governance and Ethical Behaviour. [Online]. Available: AND_ETHICAL_BEHAVIOUR.htm. Accessed on 27 February 2009.

Staub, E.N.D. The Roots of Goodness: The Fulfilment of Basic Human Needs and the Development of Caring, Helping and Non-aggression, Inclusive Caring, Moral Courage, Active Bystandership and Altruism Born of Suffering. University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Stead, W.E., Worrel, D.L. & Stead, J.G. 1994. An integrative model for understanding and managing ethical behaviour in organisations. In J. Drummond, & B. Bain (eds.) Managing Business Ethics. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann Ltd.

Svensson, G. & Wood, G. 2003. The dynamics of business ethics: A function of time and culture-cases and models. Management Decision, 41(4): 350-361.

Swanepoel, B., Erasmus, B., Van Wyk, M. & Schenk, H. 2003. South African Human Resource Development: Theory and Practice (3rd ed.). Lansdowne: Juta.

Trevino, L.K. & Nelson, K.A. 2007. Managing Business Ethics: Straight Talk About How To Do It Right (4th ed.). USA: John Wiley and Sons, Inc.

Van Zyl, E.S., & Boshoff, E. 2010. The relationship between ethical behaviour and self-concept amongst a group of secondary school teachers in the Northern Cape. Acta Criminologica, 23(3): 40-52.

Weiss, J.W. 1998. Business Ethics: A Stakeholder and Issues Management Approach (2nd ed.). Orlando: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.

Weiss, J.W. 2006. Business Ethics: A Stakeholder and Issues Management Approach (2nd ed.). Mason, Ohio: Thomson/South-Western.