Businesses Getting More Ethical Says 17 Year Study
The ethics of business leaders and professionals in companies large and small has improved over the past 17 years, according to a study published by Baylor University researchers in the April issue of the Journal of Small Business Management.
The study was based on responses from more than 5,000 managers of both small companies and large, publicly traded firms in all 50 states. The authors mailed surveys to 5000 respondents in 1985, 1993, and 2001 asking them to judge the degree to which they found 16 scenarios compatible to their own ethical views. The business situations ranged from the illegal to the debatable. Situations included:
- An executive earning $50,000 a year padded his expense account by about $1500 a year.
-A small business received one fourth of its gross revenue in the form of cash. The owner reported only one half of the cash receipts for income tax purposes.
Responses were in a seven point range from 1 (never acceptable) to 7 (always acceptable.)
The study showed that entrepreneurs and small businesses tended to be less ethical in the 1993 study, but now don’t seem fundamentally different.