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The Antecedents of Moral Imagination in the Workplace: A Social Cognitive Theory Perspective


  • Brian Whitaker


  • Lindsey Godwin


As corporate scandals proliferate, organizational researchers and practitioners have made calls for research providing guidance for those wishing to influence positive moral decision-making and behavior in the workplace. This study incorporates social cognitive theory and a vignette-based cognitive measure for moral imagination to examine (a) moral attentiveness and employee creativity as important antecedents of moral imagination and (b) creativity as a moderator of the positive relationship between moral attentiveness and moral imagination. Based on the results from supervisor–subordinate dyadic data (N = 162) obtained from employed students, hypotheses were largely supported as expected. Implications are discussed. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2013

Suggested Citation

  • Brian Whitaker & Lindsey Godwin, 2013. "The Antecedents of Moral Imagination in the Workplace: A Social Cognitive Theory Perspective," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 114(1), pages 61-73, April.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jbuset:v:114:y:2013:i:1:p:61-73
    DOI: 10.1007/s10551-012-1327-1

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Ashkanasy, Neal M. & Windsor, Carolyn A. & Treviño, Linda K., 2006. "Bad Apples in Bad Barrels Revisited: Cognitive Moral Development, Just World Beliefs, Rewards, and Ethical Decision-Making," Business Ethics Quarterly, Cambridge University Press, vol. 16(04), pages 449-473, October.
    2. Vidaver-Cohen, Deborah, 1997. "Moral Imagination in Organizational Problem-solving," Business Ethics Quarterly, Cambridge University Press, vol. 7(04), pages 1-26, October.
    3. Moberg, Dennis J. & Seabright, Mark A., 2000. "The Development of Moral Imagination," Business Ethics Quarterly, Cambridge University Press, vol. 10(04), pages 845-884, October.
    4. Smith, Adam, 1977. "An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations," University of Chicago Press Economics Books, University of Chicago Press, number 9780226763743 edited by Cannan, Edwin, June.
    5. Paul Bierly & Robert Kolodinsky & Brian Charette, 2009. "Understanding the Complex Relationship Between Creativity and Ethical Ideologies," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 86(1), pages 101-112, April.
    6. Nicole Andreoli & Joel Lefkowitz, 2009. "Individual and Organizational Antecedents of Misconduct in Organizations," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 85(3), pages 309-332, March.
    7. Joan McMahon & Robert Harvey, 2007. "The Effect of Moral Intensity on Ethical Judgment," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 72(4), pages 335-357, June.
    8. Dennis Moberg & David Caldwell, 2007. "An Exploratory Investigation of the Effect of Ethical Culture in Activating Moral Imagination," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 73(2), pages 193-204, June.
    9. Treviño, Linda Klebe & Weaver, Gary R., 2001. "Organizational Justice and Ethics Program “Follow-Through”: Influences on Employees’ Harmful and Helpful Behavior," Business Ethics Quarterly, Cambridge University Press, vol. 11(04), pages 651-671, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Fahri Karakas & Emine Sarigollu & Selcuk Uygur, 2017. "Exploring the Diversity of Virtues Through the Lens of Moral Imagination: A Qualitative Inquiry into Organizational Virtues in the Turkish Context," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 141(4), pages 731-744, April.
    2. Rachel E. Sturm, 2017. "Decreasing Unethical Decisions: The Role of Morality-Based Individual Differences," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 142(1), pages 37-57, April.
    3. Lynn Godkin, 2015. "Mid-Management, Employee Engagement, and the Generation of Reliable Sustainable Corporate Social Responsibility," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 130(1), pages 15-28, August.
    4. repec:kap:jbuset:v:148:y:2018:i:4:d:10.1007_s10551-015-2987-4 is not listed on IDEAS
    5. repec:kap:jbuset:v:145:y:2017:i:4:d:10.1007_s10551-016-3221-8 is not listed on IDEAS
    6. Leslie Sekerka & Debra Comer & Lindsey Godwin, 2014. "Positive Organizational Ethics: Cultivating and Sustaining Moral Performance," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 119(4), pages 435-444, February.
    7. repec:kap:jbuset:v:147:y:2018:i:4:d:10.1007_s10551-017-3505-7 is not listed on IDEAS


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