Purpose – The purpose of this research is to determine the commitment to business ethics in UK corporations. This study reports on the responses of those organizations that participated in the survey and possessed a code of ethics.
Design/methodology/approach – An unsolicited questionnaire was sent to the top 500 private sector organizations by market capitalization in the UK. A total of 92 companies responded, of which 56 possessed a code of ethics.
Findings – The empirical findings indicate that the processes involved in developing business ethics commitment have begun to be recognized and acted upon at an organizational level. The supporting measures of business ethics commitment appear to be under-utilized by many of these UK organizations. This suggests that many organizations have not so far developed a strong organizational commitment to embedding their codes of ethics into organizational practices.
Research limitations/implications – While the responses provided a rich picture of organizational actions, further research exploring internal culture and attitudes would add to an understanding of organizational commitment.
Practical implications – It is found that in order to influence practice, it is not enough to have the artefacts of an ethical culture, such as codes, without ensuring that all employees are assisted in understanding what is required of them.
Originality/value – Despite a history of business ethics research, there are a limited number of studies seeking to understand UK companies' commitment to ethical codes. The paper provides guidance on steps that organizations can take to develop a higher level of commitment.
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