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How did They Say That? Ethics Statements and Normative Frameworks at Best Companies to Work For


  • Kristine Hoover


  • Molly Pepper



This empirical study explores aspects of how companies that are positively recognized by their workforce as “Best Companies to Work For” convey the underlying principles of their “trustworthy” culture. The study examines the normative ethical frameworks (deontological, teleological, and ethic of care) and affective language utilized in the ethics statements. Although multiple studies have considered normative ethical frameworks in individual ethical decision making, few have considered normative ethical frameworks in organization ethics statements. In addition, this study expands the analysis to include the ethic of care. Of the “Best Companies to Work for” in this study, 93 had accessible online ethics statements. Findings indicated 70 % (65 of 93) of the ethics statements utilized combinations of three types of normative ethics studied, while 30 % (28 of 93) used a single framework. In statements with combined frameworks, the deontological framework had the highest frequency (40 %), while the ethic of care was present in 33 % of statements and the teleological framework had the lowest frequency (27 %). In ethics statements with a singular framework, the framework rankings were consistent with findings for combined frameworks. Using the Dictionary of Affect in Language, there were statistically significant differences on pleasantness between statements that mentioned ethic of care and those that did not. This study sheds light on how these trustworthy companies communicate (1) by publishing their ethics statements and (2) by using a multidimensional approach in their ethics statements that has greater pleasantness when an ethic of care is utilized. Copyright Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Suggested Citation

  • Kristine Hoover & Molly Pepper, 2015. "How did They Say That? Ethics Statements and Normative Frameworks at Best Companies to Work For," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 131(3), pages 605-617, October.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:jbuset:v:131:y:2015:i:3:p:605-617
    DOI: 10.1007/s10551-014-2255-z

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Amrita Dhillon & Jean-Francois Mertens, 1999. "Relative Utilitarianism," Econometrica, Econometric Society, vol. 67(3), pages 471-498, May.
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    9. Johanna Kujala & Anna-Maija Lämsä & Katriina Penttilä, 2011. "Managers’ Moral Decision-Making Patterns Over Time: A Multidimensional Approach," Journal of Business Ethics, Springer, vol. 100(2), pages 191-207, May.
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