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Ethical Coping: Deep and Shallow Approaches to Ethical Choice

Roman, Ronald M. (2006) Ethical Coping: Deep and Shallow Approaches to Ethical Choice. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation investigates the cognitive processes businesspeople use to resolve ethical dilemmas. I assert that to accurately represent the ethical decision making process, it is necessary to move beyond ethical decision making models that rely solely on rational choice and utility theory. I develop a behavioral model of ethical decision making that extends and improves upon existing models in two ways. First, I apply dual-process cognition theories to account for the fact that not all decisions are made in a deliberative and effortful manner (which I call "deep choice"). At times decisions are made based on intuition, heuristics, stereotypes, and other non-deliberative processes (which I call "shallow choice"). Second, I include the influence of emotions on the ethical decision process. Many managers attempt to remove emotions from the workplace, but emotions influence the decision process and must be acknowledged in a descriptive ethical decision making model. A key observation stemming from this revised model is that the ethical considerations of an action may not be actively evaluated in a decision, but may instead be "bundled" with a shallow choice. This makes it critical to understand how organizations can influence the creation, content, and use of shallow choice. A discussion of ethical choice necessarily involves a dialog regarding the methods used to evaluate the quality of the ethical decision. I critique the current measurement instruments and suggest five guideposts to help overcome the duality of the need to apply universal principles and the necessity to respond to the particular situation when resolving an ethical dilemma.I clarify and explain dual-process cognition and the proposed model by using them to explain trust formation in organizations. I also apply the model to describe how managers cope with the time pressure that is so prevalent in business today. I suggest workers engage in ethical satisficing, that is, they accept solutions that surpass some minimal ethical threshold, but which do not represent the most ethical response available. I also establish a foundation upon which a theory of ethical satisficing can be built.Lastly, I discuss implications of the proposed model and future research opportunities.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Roman, Ronald
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairMitnick, Barrymitnick@imap.pitt.eduMITNICK
Committee MemberAgle,
Committee MemberWood,
Committee MemberCraft, Jamescraft@katz.pitt.eduCRAFT
Committee MemberSteiner,
Date: 10 May 2006
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 28 April 2006
Approval Date: 10 May 2006
Submission Date: 10 May 2006
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business > Business Administration
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Business Ethics; Decision Making; Ethical Quality; Time Pressure; Trust
Other ID:, etd-05102006-023708
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:44
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:43


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