Organizational Factors Encouraging Ethical Decision Making: An Exploration into the Case of an Exemplar

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What factors in the organizational culture of an ethically exemplary corporation are responsible for encouraging ethical decision making? This question was analyzed through an exploratory case study of a top pharmaceutical company that is a global leader in ethics. The participating organization is renowned in public opinion polls of ethics, credibility, and trust. This research explored organizational culture, communication in issues management and public relations, management theory, and deontological or utilitarian moral philosophy as factors that might encourage ethical analysis. Our understanding of organiza tional ethics is enhanced by elucidating factors the case revealed as encouraging ethical analysis an organizational culture that emphasizes the importance of ethics, Theory Y management, a symmetrical worldview valuing innovation and dialogue, a counseling role for issues management or public relations in the dominant coalition, rewarding ethical behavior, ethical analysis using moral philosophy, consistency between individual values and organizational philosophy, and ethics training. These factors, and perhaps others as yet unidentified, worked together to create an environment that encouraged ethical decision making at the exemplar organization.

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