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An Ethical Culture Approach to Compliance and Integrity Management: What Works and What Hurts to Prevent Misconduct and Promote Ethical Behavior in Organizations

  • The recurrent business scandals of the past decades have been a wakeup call for research and practitioners regarding the crisis organizational ethics is in. In an effort to remedy the situation many organizations have relied on the implementation of compliance- and/or integrity-oriented ethics programs. However, observations from practice and research show that the results of such programs are mixed, and it is still unclear when and why they are effective to reduce misconduct and promote ethical behavior. In this dissertation an answer to this question is sought. Building on literature that considers the overall organizational ethical context, I hypothesize that ethical culture can explain when and why compliance and integrity strategies are successful at preventing misconduct and promoting ethical behavior. To examine the proposed relationship, two new measures for ethics strategies and ethical culture are developed and validated. The Ethics Strategy Measure (ESM) is the first validated instrument to measure the strategic focus of ethics programs (compliance vs. integrity). The German Ethical Culture Scale 2.0 (GECS 2.0) is a 10-dimensional advanced measure of ethical culture. In three studies the psychometric properties, convergent and predictive validity of the two instruments are shown. Consequently, in four consecutive studies the new measures are applied to test whether the dimensions of ethical culture mediate the relationship between compliance and integrity strategies and (un)ethical behavior. The results show that the effects of compliance and integrity strategies on unethical behavior can fully be explained through their effect on the dimensions of ethical culture. Further, it is shown that compliance strategies are not able to inspire ethical conduct, while integrity strategies are. This relationship is also fully mediated by the dimensions of ethical culture. Different ethical culture dimensions emerge as drivers of different mediated effects. Implications for research and practice are discussed.

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Author:Diana Stimmler-Caesmann
Referee:Carmen Tanner, Matthias Sohn
Document Type:Doctoral Thesis
Year of Publication:2022
Date of first Publication:2022/06/02
Publishing Institution:Zeppelin Universität
Granting Institution:Zeppelin Universität
Date of final exam:2022/05/19
Release Date:2022/06/02
Tag:compliance, integrity, ethical culture, ethics strategies, unethical behavior
Page Number:ix, 194 Seiten
Licence (German):License LogoUrheberrechtlich geschützt