Preparing a Code of Ethics
August 21, 2010 3 Comments
Tseng, Duan, Tung, and Kung (2010) analyzed 85,000 cited references of 3,059 articles from three business ethics related journals. The researchers found three concentration of interest in the cited references. The concentration was around the following:
- Ethical and unethical decision-making
- corporate governance and firm performance
- Ethical principles and code of conduct
Comparable study was conducted by Forster, Loughran, and McDonald (2009) on a sample of firms listed on the Standard & Poor’s 500 showed similar sentences in their code of ethics. The repeated phrases are covering law obedience, acting with integrity, commitment to integrity, commitments to treating others with fairness, exercising citizenship rights and remaining committed to the organization’s values. Messikomer and Cirka (2010) stated honesty, respect, integrity, quality, neutrality and responsibility as the code of ethics principles for the organization (Messikomer & Cirka, 2010).
The list of important rules and principles above are a good guideline to write most of the organizational code of conduct. The process can start with identifying the organizational values and learn for the past experiences when the organizations had ethical problems or when employees violated the organizational values. The employees should be involved in writing the code of conduct, however representatives from each departments or sections would be enough when the organization has many employees that could not be assembled in one locations to discuss such intangible issue. The key stakeholders comments would be valuable for writing the code of ethics because the stakeholders are directly affected by the organizational ethics. The code of ethics history shows that the code writing was reactive to the international ethical violations (Messikomer & Cirka, 2010). Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) of 1977 was set to control the supply side corruption by imposing anti-bribery provisions and accounting provision. The act had limited success in the anti-bribery practices according to Darrough (2010), but the ethical users relatively subsided after issuing the act (Messikomer & Cirka, 2010).
Darrough, M. (2010). The FCPA and the OECD convention: Some lessons from the U.S. experience. Journal of Business Ethics, 93(2), 255-276. doi: 10.1007/s10551-009-0219-5
Forster, M., Loughran, T., & McDonald, B. (2009). Commonality in codes of ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 90, 129-139. doi: 10.1007/s10551-010-0380-x
Messikomer, C., & Cirka, C. (2010). Constructing a code of ethics: An experiential case of a national professional organization. Journal of Business Ethics, 95(1), 55-71. doi: 10.1007/s10551-009-0347-y
Tseng, H.-C., Duan, C.-H., Tung, H.-L., & Kung, H.-J. (2010). Modern business ethics research: Concepts, theories, and relationships. Journal of Business Ethics, 91(4), 587-597. doi: 10.1007/s10551-009-0133-x