Minding the gap: exploring differences in perceptions of ethical business cultures among executives, mid-level managers and non-managers


CENTERS, INSTITUTES, ETC.; Center for Ethical Business Cultures

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ethical business cultures; executives; senior managers; mid-level


This study explored whether perceptions of organizational business ethics differ by hierarchical levels. The study sample included more than 40,000 executives, mid-level managers and non-managerial employees from business organizations in six countries: Brazil, China, Germany, India, the UK and the US. We found that executives provided the most positive assessment of ethical business culture within their respective organizations. Employees’ assessments were less positive, and mid-level managers’ assessments fell in the middle. Organizational size and respondents’ age were not related to differences in responses. Statistically significant differences among hierarchical levels were found in Brazil, the US, Germany, the UK and China. Differences were not significant in India. Executives with longer tenure at the same organization tended to provide higher ratings of organizations’ ethical cultures, while managers’ and employees’ ratings tended to decrease with time.

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Human Resource Development International

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.