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Sensemaking of managers' ethical work orientations


  • Christina Reis


Purpose - Regarding managers' sensemaking of ethical content, this paper aims to help understand how managers come to believe what is important for business ethics and to improve understanding about their ethical work orientations. Design/methodology/approach - The method used was a qualitative approach that analyzed 23 in-depth interviews conducted with managers in various settings. Findings - Three categories of ethical sense-making orientations were identified: the proactive managers; the institutional managers; the technical managers. The study follows a discussion of the significance of these categories in terms of ethics in management, focusing on the extent to which the individual or the organization appears to drive ethical dilemmas. Research limitations/implications - Five main limitations are discussed. It was not the aim of the study to provide an explanatory model for the process of ethical sensemaking and managers' work orientations. The sample of managers used in the study is only indicative of managers' ethical work orientations. Practical implications - Managers have different ethical work orientations that relate to their personal identities. These categories may provide a framework for future research on additional types of professionals, organizations and cultural settings. For example, the institutional ethical managers are easier for organizations to control since they seem to rely on company rules. Originality/value - The paper is valuable for management scholars and practitioners in the field of management. Since not much has been written about the sensemaking of managers and business ethics, the paper examines how some managers were more proactive than others in identifying ethical content in unexpected situations.

Suggested Citation

  • Christina Reis, 2010. "Sensemaking of managers' ethical work orientations," Social Responsibility Journal, Emerald Group Publishing, vol. 6(1), pages 143-155, March.
  • Handle: RePEc:eme:srjpps:v:6:y:2010:i:1:p:143-155

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Manuel Branco & Lúcia Rodrigues, 2006. "Corporate Social Responsibility and Resource-Based Perspectives," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 69(2), pages 111-132, December.
    2. Laura Hartman & Robert Rubin & K. Dhanda, 2007. "The Communication of Corporate Social Responsibility: United States and European Union Multinational Corporations," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 74(4), pages 373-389, September.
    3. Ron Bird & Anthony D. Hall & Francesco Momentè & Francesco Reggiani, 2007. "What Corporate Social Responsibility Activities are Valued by the Market?," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 76(2), pages 189-206, December.
    4. Nelarine Cornelius & Mathew Todres & Shaheena Janjuha-Jivraj & Adrian Woods & James Wallace, 2008. "Corporate Social Responsibility and the Social Enterprise," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 81(2), pages 355-370, August.
    5. Bryan W Husted & David B Allen, 2006. "Corporate social responsibility in the multinational enterprise: strategic and institutional approaches," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 37(6), pages 838-849, November.
    6. Dilek Cetindamar, 2007. "Corporate Social Responsibility Practices and Environmentally Responsible Behavior: The Case of The United Nations Global Compact," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 76(2), pages 163-176, December.
    7. Ven van de, B. & Graafland, J.J., 2006. "Strategic and moral motivation for corporate social responsibility," MPRA Paper 20278, University Library of Munich, Germany.
    8. AfDB AfDB, . "AfDB Group Annual Report 2006," Annual Report, African Development Bank, number 62 edited by Koua Louis Kouakou.
    9. David A Waldman & Mary Sully de Luque & Nathan Washburn & Robert J House & Bolanle Adetoun & Angel Barrasa & Mariya Bobina & Muzaffer Bodur & Yi-Jung Chen & Sukhendu Debbarma & Peter Dorfman & Rosemar, 2006. "Cultural and leadership predictors of corporate social responsibility values of top management: a GLOBE study of 15 countries," Journal of International Business Studies, Palgrave Macmillan;Academy of International Business, vol. 37(6), pages 823-837, November.
    10. Po-Keung Ip, 2008. "Corporate Social Responsibility and Crony Capitalism in Taiwan," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 79(1), pages 167-177, April.
    11. World Bank, 2007. "The World Bank Annual Report 2007," World Bank Publications, The World Bank, number 7534.
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    Business ethics; Managers; Ethics;


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