Ethics and Organizational Culture


The focus of the study is to analyze the significance of ethics in organizational behavior. Organizations often develop unique cultures that define how employees undertake their duties, relate with one another, and how customers are handled. Ravasi and Schultz (2006) say that organizations that fail to develop a culture that promotes cooperation and commitment among employees often face serious challenges. The same fate faces organizations that have poor customer relations approaches. When employees show disrespect to the customers, chances are high that such customers may opt to purchase products from rival companies. Successful companies have come to appreciate the power of developing an appropriate culture that guides actions and decisions made by all stakeholders, from the shareholders and top managers to the junior-most employees. It makes it easy to predict the pattern of behavior of these stakeholders even in times of crisis.

Literature review

Organizational culture as a concept has gained massive popularity in the recent past. Business executives and scholars have come to determine that the success of every organization largely depends on the actions of its employees. How employees undertake assignments given to them, how they communicate amongst themselves and with the top managers, and how they handle clients all affect the sustainability of the business. It explains why many scholars have tried to explain why ethics should be incorporated into organizational culture (Rakichevikj, Strezoska, & Najdeska, 2010). It has become evident that without ethics being part of organizational culture, it is almost impossible to achieve the set goals and objectives of an organization.

According to Gorondutse and Hilman (2016), organizational culture must be inculcated in one way or the other. That includes failing to nurture a given culture because the vacuum created will drive employees to embrace a practice they believe is most convenient for them. The development of organizational culture is a direct responsibility of the top manager. They are expected to understand the vision, and strategic objectives of their organizations then develop a culture that would be appropriate for meeting them. Sometimes it may be necessary to use reinforcements to ensure that stakeholders embrace the desirable culture. That may include using rewards and punishments whenever necessary to ensure that everyone learns the behavior considered desirable within the organization. However, Dempsey (2015) warns that such measures should be taken to avoid creating fear in the organization.

Sustaining a desirable organizational culture is as challenging as creating it, as Sinclair (1993) observes. Once a culture has been created, it is the responsibility of all the employees in managerial positions (from the top managers to junior supervisors) to ensure that the new employees learn the culture of the organization. They have to ensure that everyone acts as per the expected standards at all times. Whenever the behavior of any employee deviates from the standard practice, he or she must be held responsible. Campbell and Göritz (2014) believe that not all deviant behaviors should be met with punitive measures. It is necessary to ask the employees to explain why they acted in a given manner that was not expected. It is possible to find cases where the change is motivated to serve customers better or to make an extra effort on a given assignment.


Secondary data sources emphasize the significance of developing a unique organizational culture in the current competitive business environment. In such a business environment, customers often look for uniqueness in the products or services that are offered to them by different companies. They often opt for products or services that they believe offer the best value. In industries where products or services cannot be easily differentiated, the additional value that customers get is often defined by the services that employees offer. The time that employees take to attend to the customers, their politeness, and the ability to listen to customers’ concerns, and how well they address these concerns define the level of satisfaction of their clients. However, these practices are learned behaviors (Slavica, Leposava, Stevan, Boban, & Zuzana, 2014). The employees need to learn how to handle their clients every time they make purchases or seek clarifications. The employees must be made to understand that they can bring about the level of uniqueness needed in product offerings that can give their firm an edge over the rival companies.

Ethics is critical, as demonstrated by the findings from the review of the literature. According to McGregor’s Theory X, people are more likely to relax and find an easy way out whenever they are assigned a given task (Ardichvili, Mitchell, & Jondle, 2009). In most of the cases, the easy way out is not always the best approach that needs to be taken. It means that the top management should ensure that such unethical practices are avoided at all costs to ensure that the desired organizational goals are achieved. Nakano (2007) says that although some ethical practices are conventional irrespective of the industry, some variations often exist. A good example is in the hospital setting. It is ethically important for a service provider to act as per the desires of a client. However, sometimes the request made by a client made not be in his or her best interest. A doctor may be forced to act contrary to the request of a client to ensure that they get the right medication. Of interest should be to ensure that the service provided will yield the ultimate goals, sometimes even if it means going against the interest of the customer.

The findings also reveal the consequences of corruption when trying to promote ethical practices in an organizational setting. According to Terec-Vlad and & Cucu (2016), corruption is one of the worst forces that can easily destroy an ethical culture within an organization. The desire to make quick financial gain is often common among humankind. However, it is a dangerous desire that must be controlled. It is a desire that can easily make one ignore all the standard practices and set rules because of the promise of quick financial benefits. The rot of corruption often starts at the top management unit. When the top managers are tempted to bend rules for personal gains, they will force their subordinates to act contrary to the set regulations. Sometimes they share the benefits with these subordinates. The chain of unethical practices may go down to the junior employees if they are responsible for undertaking a given action desired by the top managers. The ripple effect caused by the action of the top manager makes junior officers believe that corruption can be tolerated in the firm. Such actions also compromise the authority of the top managers. Given that they asked favors from their juniors, they are also expected to ignore the mistakes committed by these subordinates.


The study strongly recommends the need to promote an ethical culture. It is clear that in their recommendations, the scholars insist that the top management unit has the responsibility of promoting ethics. They must understand the vision and mission of their entity and define a culture that will enable it to be superior to other rival firms. It is strongly recommended that managers should promote close communication between management and employees to enhance the sharing of information. Employees should understand why specific cultural practices are embraced and not others. The study warns against corrupt practices within an organizational setting. In most of the cases, the problem of corruption starts with the top managers in an organization. When junior employees realize that their managers are corrupt, they get to embrace the culture, knowing that their superiors lack the moral authority to stop the practice. Such vices create an environment where managers cannot direct employees to realize the vision of a firm.


Ethics and organizational culture are concepts that must always be tied together to ensure that an entity achieves its goals and strategic objectives. The study shows that every entity often faces challenges, some of which can be very disruptive if not handled properly. As such, success is often determined by the level of commitment of the employees, the ability to meet the needs of clients in the best way possible, and the effectiveness of the strategies used in combating challenges that may arise from time to time. In such an environment, the top managers are expected to be in full control of their employees. Engaging in acts of corruption compromises the authority of these managers. It makes it difficult to achieve the desired goals.


Ardichvili, A., Mitchell, J., & Jondle, D. (2009). Characteristics of ethical business cultures. Journal of Business Ethics, 85(4), 445–451. Web.

Campbell, J., & Göritz, A. (2014). Culture corrupts! A qualitative study of organizational culture in corrupt organizations. Journal of Business Ethics, 120(3), 291-311. Web.

Dempsey, J. (2015). Moral responsibility, shared values, and corporate culture. Business Ethics Quarterly, 25(3), 319–340. Web.

Gorondutse, A., & Hilman, H. (2016). Mediation effect of the organizational culture on the relationship between perceived ethics on performance of SMEs. Journal of Industrial Engineering and Management, 9(2), 505-529. dWeb.

Nakano, C. (2007). The significance and limitations of corporate governance from the perspective of business ethics: Towards the creation of an ethical organizational culture. Asian Business & Management, 6(2), 163-178. Web.

Rakichevikj, G., Strezoska, K., & Najdeska, K. (2010). Professional ethics: Basic component of organizational culture. Tourism & Hospitality Management 2010, Conference Proceedings, 1168-1177. Web.

Ravasi, D., & Schultz, M. (2006). Responding to organizational identity threats: Exploring the role of organizational culture. Academy of Management Journal, 49(3), 433–458. Web.

Sinclair, A. (1993). Approaches to organisational culture and ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 12(1), 63. Web.

Slavica, M., Leposava, G., Stevan, M., Boban, M., & Zuzana, B. (2014). Manager’s assessment of organizational culture. E+M Ekonomie a Management, 17(3), 35-49. Web.

Terec-Vlad, L., & Cucu, M. (2016). Ethics and organizational culture-key elements regarding the development of economic activities. Ecoforum, 5(1), 192- 196. Web.