Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe
Print version ISSN 0041-4751
CRAVEN, Pieter and BISSCHOFF, Christo. A comparative analysis of ethical managerial perceptions between the management and employees of the production department in a multinational agricultural company. Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2011, vol.51, n.3, pp. 354-372. ISSN 0041-4751.
The importance of business ethics and ethical conduct in business dealings has taken on new interest in recent times. Universal codes of conduct have been drafted by many multinational organisations to provide a uniform set of guidelines for ethical conduct expected from employees in companies. Often, when such codes are complied with, they do not consider the environment in which affiliates of the companies operate, which may cause codes of conduct to become nothing more than ideas merely written on paper. The aim of this study was to develop ethical profiles for management and the production employees within a multinational seed production company in South Africa, and to determine whether there were any differences regarding ethical perceptions within and between these groups. This company serves as an excellent case study where a code of conduct on ethical behaviour was formulated and strategically managed. Data were collected by means of a questionnaire presenting different scenarios measuring the attitudes of participants towards business practices that may be viewed as potentially corrupt. Descriptive statistics were used to develop ethical profiles for each of the different groups, while practical significance or effect sizes were used to identify practical significant differences between the groups. Results indicated that employees in both the management and production departments at the company showed ethical profiles that had strong ethical inclinations. There were no significant differences observed between the two groups concerning the scenarios depicting behaviour of individuals. Regarding the behaviour of the company, it was found that both management and employees in production found a number of these scenarios acceptable. However, these scenarios could be classified as the "grey areas" or soft issues, where there are no clear guidelines, rules or laws assisting the individual as to what can be considered right or wrong. Practical significant differences were observed between the two groups forfive of the fourteen scenarios. However, it was found that employees in both groups still showed ethically inclined profiles with regard to company behaviour. It was concluded that employees at the company do indeed possess substantial levels of ethical standards, based on the ethical profiles of both management and the employees in production. However, room for improvement on ethical behaviour, specifically with regard to the perceptions of company behaviour, was identified.
Keywords : Multinational; ethical perceptions; business ethics; code of conduct; ethical profile; management ethics; effect size; Foreign Corrupt Practices Act; FCPA; Sarbanes-Oxley Act.