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Ethics and Organizational Culture

Ethics and organizational culture are highly important for organizations, have a high impact on performance, customer relationships and affect the process of achieving organizational goals. Ethical behaviour of employees is shaped by many factors such as type of leadership within the company or department, established corporate culture and formal ethical code of conduct. Personal factors such as motivation, job satisfaction and commitment also affect common patterns of behaviour (Hellriegel & Slocum, 2007). Thus, in order to foster an ethical work environment, managers should first of all analyze working environment as well as individual needs of the employees. If job satisfaction or motivation is low, the first step should be to find the roots of these factors and improve the situation. The managers should at least address hygiene factors (according to two-factor motivation theory) (Hellriegel & Slocum, 2007), so that employee attitude to work and behaviour would not be severely affected by working conditions. These are the issues to be addressed at individual/employee level.

On the organizational level, it is necessary to create an established code of conduct with clearly described ethical and non-ethical behaviors. The employees should be required to sign a statement showing that they have reviewed and understood the provisions of the code (Ghuman, 2010). For larger organizations, it is reasonable to introduce employee certification in accordance with this code of conduct. Furthermore, it is recommended to schedule trainings where employees can learn more on ethical behaviour and practice it in certain model situations. The focus of training should be on sustainability and practice, and the set of trainings should be continuous. Employee surveys and audit of these trainings should happen periodically. Introducing a system of rewards based on the estimate of employee performance (with ethical behaviour being one of performance criteria) can significantly foster the process (Ghuman, 2010).

Finally, supervisors and top management should show employees the examples of ethical behaviour, and discuss emerging ethical issues live, when it is possible. Communicating with employees and showing them how their efforts and behaviors benefit to the whole company can be an effective supplement to a clear code of conduct and appropriate training system.


Ghuman, D.K. (2010). Management: Concepts, Practice & Cases. Tata McGraw-Hill Education.
Hellriegel, D. & Slocum, J.W. (2007). Organizational behavior. Cengage Learning.