close

Вход

Забыли?

вход по аккаунту

?

s10551-017-3723-z

код для вставкиСкачать
J Bus Ethics
DOI 10.1007/s10551-017-3723-z
ORIGINAL PAPER
How Implicit Ethics Institutionalization Affects Ethical Selling
Intention: The Case of Taiwan’s Life Insurance Salespeople
Lu‑Ming Tseng1 Received: 4 April 2017 / Accepted: 17 October 2017
© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2017
Abstract This study examines the mediating role of felt
accountability and cost–benefit consideration in the relationship between implicit ethics institutionalization and ethical
selling intention. The research hypotheses are developed
and tested with data collected using a scenario‐based questionnaire. The research design proposes two types of ethical
dilemmas. In the first dilemma, the insurance salespeople
are told that the dishonest selling behavior will lead to a
profitable outcome. In the second dilemma, the insurance
salespeople are informed that the honest selling behavior
will lead to an unprofitable outcome. The findings show that
implicit ethics institutionalization is positively related to felt
accountability, cost–benefit consideration and ethical selling intention, while felt accountability and cost–benefit consideration could partially mediate the relationship between
implicit ethics institutionalization and the insurance salespeople’s ethical selling intention. The study highlights the
importance of implicit ethics institutionalization in sales ethics and helps researchers and practitioners to better understand the mediators of felt accountability and cost–benefit
consideration through which implicit ethics institutionalization benefits ethical selling intention.
Keywords Implicit ethics institutionalization · Felt
accountability · Cost–benefit consideration · Ethical selling
intention · Financial ethics
* Lu‑Ming Tseng
Lmtseng@fcu.edu.tw
1
Department of Risk Management and Insurance, Feng Chia
University, No. 100 Wenhwa Rd., Seatwen, Taichung 40724,
Taiwan, ROC
Introduction
Sales ethics is certainly an important issue in the financial
service industry (Jin et al. 2013; Hartwig et al. 2015). However, frequent unethical selling behaviors, such as misrepresenting product information or making promises to customers that cannot be fulfilled, still occur in the industry
and have caused serious harm to the customers and society
(Staubus 2005). Previous studies have identified a range of
factors that have significant impacts on ethical decisionmaking (Craft 2013). In contrast to these studies, researchers have tended to emphasize the importance of ethics
institutionalization.
Ethics institutionalization refers to the “degree to which
an organization explicitly and implicitly incorporates ethics into its decision-making processes” (Singhapakdi and
Vitell 2007, p. 284). Previous studies indicate that ethics
institutionalization can be explicit and implicit. Explicit ethics institutionalization refers to “the codification of ethical
behavior in terms of codes of ethics, policy manuals, orientation programs, and ethics committees” (Singhapakdi et al.
2010, p. 78). Implicit ethics institutionalization, on the other
hand, refers to “a work climate in which ethical behavior is
understood by employees to be crucial in the makeup and
functioning of the firm” (Singhapakdi et al. 2010, p. 78).
The relationship between ethics institutionalizations and
ethical behaviors has been the subject of recent theoretical
and empirical studies (e.g., Vitell et al. 2015), and researchers find that implicit ethics institutionalization is especially
important because implicit ethics institutionalization could
substantially improve the perceived importance of ethics,
quality of work life (QWL), job satisfaction, esprit de corps
and organizational commitment (Singhapakdi et al. 2010;
Marta et al. 2013).
13
Vol.:(0123456789)
L.-M. Tseng
This study explores how implicit ethics institutionalization will affect ethical selling intention. The reasons we
focus on implicit ethics institutionalization are as follows.
First, Singhapakdi and Vitell (2007) show that implicit ethics institutionalization determines marketing practitioners’
perceived importance of ethics. Vitell et al. (2015) then find
that implicit ethics institutionalization is a significant predictor of the marketing practitioners’ ethical attitudes. They
show that a strong perception of implicit ethics institutionalization will increase the marketing practitioners’ ethical attitudes toward a certain questionable behavior. Based on the
findings of these studies, implicit ethics institutionalization
is of vital importance for marketing organizations. Second,
it is acknowledged that companies cannot always directly
observe the actions of salespeople (Anderson and Oliver
1987). Since the salespeople’s unethical actions are difficult
to monitor, researchers suggest that the companies should
rely on implicit ethical systems (such as ethical climate) to
reduce the unethical selling behaviors (Mulki et al. 2009).
Third, although implicit ethics institutionalization is an
important issue in the literature and the problems of unethical selling behaviors are also of paramount concern (Vitell
and Singhapakdi 2008), the current approaches to reduce
salespeople’s unethical selling behaviors have focused on
control systems rather than understanding how implicit ethics institutionalization may influence the salespeople’s ethical decision-making. Fourth, people from different nations
or industries may experience different patterns of ethical
work climate. Implicit ethics institutionalization refers to
a work climate where ethical behavior is recognized to be
crucial (Singhapakdi et al. 2010). Based on this, more studies on implicit ethics institutionalization with other nations
or industries may be needed. By using Taiwanese insurance
salespeople as the research sample, this study examines how
ethical selling intention is influenced by the salespeople’s
perception of implicit ethics institutionalization. The findings of this study may make a contribution to the literature
on implicit ethics institutionalization by providing empirical
observations from the views of Taiwanese salespeople.
Researchers also encourage future studies to investigate
the role that felt accountability plays in the ethical decision-making process (Steinbauer, et al. 2014). Felt accountability refers to an employee’s expectation to be required
to justify her/his behaviors to others that possess reward or
punishment powers (Hochwarter et al. 2003; Huse 2005).
A number of studies have found that implicit ethics institutionalization, such as ethical climate, would enhance felt
accountability and transparency (Brown and Treviño 2006;
Steinbauer et al. 2014). Researchers then show that employees may be less likely to engage in unethical behaviors when
accountability is perceived in the organization (Beu and
Buckley 2001; Hochwarter et al. 2003). Previous studies
further suggest that felt accountability relates significantly to
13
individuals’ perceived probability of being punished (Peace
et al. 2003; Robertson et al. 2012). Therefore, it is reasonable to believe that felt accountability may play an important
role in influencing ethical selling intention. This study examines the mediating role of felt accountability in the relationship between implicit ethics institutionalization and ethical
selling intention. Until now, no reported study has tested
this mediation hypothesis. Studying the mediating effect is
important because it can present an alternative strategy of
managerial intervention (Schwab 2013). Previous studies do
not consider the mediating effect of felt accountability.
In addition to the mediating effect of felt accountability on implicit ethics institutionalization and ethical selling
intention, the relationships among implicit ethics institutionalization, cost–benefit consideration and ethical selling
intention may also deserve some attention. Cost–benefit
consideration is a process by which people will weigh the
pros and cons to determine the most favorable course of
action (Mishan and Quah 2007). According to previous studies, implicit ethics institutionalization may lead to various
organizational outcomes, such as job satisfaction, organizational commitment and team spirit (Koonmee et al. 2010).
Furthermore, it is pointed out that ethical leadership imposes
punishment for unethical behaviors, and this would have significant impacts on the ethical judgments of employees (Podsakoff et al. 2006). Based on this view, it could be posited
that implicit ethics institutionalization could be an important
antecedent of people’s cost–benefit consideration. On the
other hand, previous studies indicate that cost–benefit consideration would have a significant impact on ethical decision-making (Vitell and Hunt 2015). It is pointed out that
an unethical behavior may become more acceptable in the
organization when the advantages of the unethical behavior
clearly outweigh its disadvantages (Chang 1998; Tenbrunsel
and Messick 2004). Researchers have also consistently found
that people are more likely to engage in unethical behaviors
when the behaviors have positive consequences (Hunt and
Vitell 1986). Hence, it can be expected that ethical selling
intention is influenced by cost–benefit consideration. The
above discussions suggest that cost–benefit consideration may play a mediating role in the relationship between
implicit ethics institutionalization and ethical selling intention. However, no study has examined the mediating effect.
Checking the mediating effect may enhance our understanding of the causal relationship between implicit ethics institutionalization and ethical selling intention. Thus, it would
be worthwhile to provide discussions and observations of
this issue.
The Importance of this Research
The conceptual model of this study is presented in Fig. 1.
Figure 1 suggests that felt accountability and cost–benefit
How Implicit Ethics Institutionalization Affects Ethical Selling Intention: The Case of…
Felt
H4: +
Ethical selling
intention
accountability
H1: +
H3: +
Implicit ethics
H2: +
institutionalization
H5: +
Cost-benefit
consideration
Fig. 1 Conceptual model (H6 and H7 focus on mediating effects)
consideration could play a mediating role in the relationship between implicit ethics institutionalization and ethical
selling intention. We believe that the idea of implicit ethics
institutionalization should trigger more research interest in
business ethics studies. This study addresses the effects of
implicit ethics institutionalization on ethical selling intention. More specifically, this study aims to develop an understanding of the relationships among implicit ethics institutionalization, felt accountability, cost–benefit consideration
and ethical selling intention. Prior research reveals that perception of accountability may reduce unethical practices,
such as intentions to commit access policy violations (Vance
et al. 2013). It has also been acknowledged that cost–benefit
consideration can affect ethical attitudes (Hunt and Vitell
2006). This study attempts to check the mediating roles that
felt accountability and cost–benefit consideration play in the
link between implicit ethics institutionalization and ethical
selling intention. This is the first study to highlight the mediating effects.
The contribution of this study is that previous studies on
implicit ethics institutionalization (e.g., Vitell and Singhapakdi 2008; Singhapakdi et al. 2010; Marta et al. 2013; Lee
et al. 2015) could be enriched by including the constructs
of felt accountability, cost–benefit consideration and ethical selling intention. Specifically, this study tests whether
or not implicit ethics institutionalization increases ethical
selling intention through felt accountability and cost–benefit consideration. The findings of this study could provide
empirical support for two mechanisms (felt accountability
and cost–benefit consideration) that help explain the effect
of implicit ethics institutionalization on ethical selling
intention.
On the practical level, implicit ethics institutionalization, felt accountability, cost–benefit consideration and
ethical intention should be important concepts in the
financial service industry. Taking the banking industry
as an example, loan officers and mortgage brokers have
the right to decide how much money can be lent to the
borrowers. Yet, some of the loan officers and mortgage
brokers have been detained on suspicion of granting illegal
loans (Goldmann 2010). In the insurance industry, it is
also found that insurance salespeople may help high-risk
customers to provide untruthful information to the insurance companies (Picard 1996). The banks and insurance
companies may not be able to completely eradicate those
unethical behaviors through formal ethical codes. In order
to reduce the occurrence of unethical behaviors inside the
financial organizations, the financial organizations should
attach much importance to implicit ethical systems, felt
accountability and cost–benefit consideration. Understanding the relationships among implicit ethics institutionalization, felt accountability, cost–benefit consideration and
ethical selling intention may allow the financial companies
to recheck and re-tailor their management policies.
The research hypotheses are tested with data collected
using a scenario‐based questionnaire. This research
designs two kinds of ethical dilemmas, and these two
dilemmas are: (1) an insurance salesperson sells products
through a dishonest sales method, and finally the sale is
successful and the commission is earned; (2) an insurance salesperson sells products through an honest method,
but finally he is refused by the customer and thereby the
opportunity of earning commission is lost. We design
two ethical dilemmas in the questionnaires because prior
research points out that the situational context of ethical
dilemmas could affect the ethical decision-making of people (Singhapakdi et al. 1996).
The paper is organized as follows. The following section
presents a review of the relevant literature on the subject.
The next section describes the methodology that is used
in this study. Finally, the last section concludes with the
discussions.
13
L.-M. Tseng
Literature and Hypotheses
Implicit Ethics Institutionalization and Felt
Accountability
Implicit ethics institutionalization refers to a social and
physical environment of a workplace, wherein ethical
standards are not formally presented, but are recognized
and understood to be of great importance (Vitell et al.
2011). Previous studies show that implicit ethics institutionalization has a significant effect on employees’ ethical
attitudes because implicit ethics institutionalization provides guidelines for the employees to make ethical decisions (Vitell and Singhapakdi 2008; Singhapakdi et al.
2010).
Felt accountability is defined as “an implicit or explicit
expectation that one’s decisions or actions will be subject
to evaluation by some salient audience(s) (including oneself), with the belief in the potential for either rewards or
sanctions based on these evaluations” (Hall et al. 2006, p.
88). Researchers argue that accountability should be considered as a subjective evaluation (i.e., felt accountability),
rather than an objective condition, such as formal accountability policies (Hochwarter et al. 2003; Hall et al. 2007).
According to Hall et al. (2009), felt accountability could
enhance organizational citizenship behavior, which in turn
enhances job performance and satisfaction through personal
reputation. Researchers then suggest that felt accountability
may have significant influences on organizational outcomes
(Hall et al. 2017). For example, it is found that there is a
U-shaped relationship between self-reported accountability and supervisor-reported contextual performance (Hall
and Ferris 2011). Langhe et al. (2011) then find that high
accountability could result in higher decision quality.
This study argues that implicit ethics institutionalization
may also affect employees’ felt accountability. This argument
could be plausible because implicit ethics institutionalization
determines what kinds of behaviors are morally acceptable
in the workplace (Singhapakdi et al. 2010). Moreover, it
is suggested that the employees are more likely to be held
accountable for their ethical decisions in the organizations
when an ethical work climate is perceived (Wimbush et al.
1997; Beu and Buckley 2004; Rothwell and Baldwin 2007;
Miceli et al. 2013). Since implicit ethics institutionalization
provides guidelines to judge the employees’ behaviors and
decisions (Frink and Ferris 1999; Hall et al. 2009; Koonmee et al. 2010), implicit ethics institutionalization could
strengthen the employees’ felt accountability. Based on this
reasoning, we propose the following hypothesis:
Hypothesis 1 Implicit ethics institutionalization is
positively related to the insurance salespeople’s felt
accountability.
13
The Relationship of Implicit Ethics Institutionalization
to Cost–Benefit Consideration
Cost–benefit consideration refers to a person’s overall assessment of the pros and cons of a specific action
(Kouchaki et al. 2013). Rational choice theory indicates
that people are rational and prefer to maximize pleasure
and avoid punishments (Green and Fox 2007). Based on
this view, ethics institutionalization may be related to
employees’ cost–benefit consideration because ethics institutionalization displays the organization’s punishments
for unethical behaviors (Al-Rafee and Cronan 2006; Shin
2012; Vitell et al. 2015).
Previous studies suggest that ethical climate and social
consensus are important components of ethical decisionmaking (Bateman et al. 2013; Shafer 2015). In fact,
researchers have shown that implicit ethics institutionalization provides expectations of ethical behaviors (Peterson 2002; Duh et al. 2010; Lu and Lin 2014; Vitell et al.
2015). The employees who do not follow these expectations may suffer negative consequences (Schwepker et al.
1997). Accordingly, implicit ethics institutionalization
could affect the employees’ cost–benefit consideration. In
short, this study posits that implicit ethics institutionalization may play an important role in influencing cost–benefit consideration. Therefore, the following hypothesis is
formulated.
Hypothesis 2 Implicit ethics institutionalization is positively related to the insurance salespeople’s cost–benefit
consideration, such that the insurance salespeople who perceive implicit ethics institutionalization at work will be more
likely to see that the costs of unethical selling behaviors
outweigh the benefits.
The Impact of Implicit Ethics Institutionalization
on Ethical Selling Intention
Researchers point out that implicit ethics institutionalization
can serve as a perceptual lens through which organizational
members recognize ethical issues (Singhapakdi and Vitell
2007). Several studies examine the impacts of implicit ethics
institutionalization and find that implicit ethics institutionalization is positively associated with ethical decisions in the
organizations (Singhapakdi et al. 2010; Vitell et al. 2011;
Vitell et al. 2015). Since implicit ethics institutionalization
provides clear standards for ethical behaviors (Vitell and
Singhapakdi 2008; Singhapakdi et al. 2010), it is expected
that implicit ethics institutionalization could strengthen
ethical selling intention. Accordingly, we infer that implicit
ethics institutionalization would advance ethical selling
intention.
How Implicit Ethics Institutionalization Affects Ethical Selling Intention: The Case of…
Hypothesis 3 Implicit ethics institutionalization is positively related to the insurance salespeople’s ethical selling
intention.
The Influence of Felt Accountability on Ethical Selling
Intention
Many current ethical issues in the market are linked to a lack
of transparency and accountability in executives’ decisionmaking (Bhagat and Romano 2009; Gregory-Smith 2012).
Previous studies also show that felt accountability creates
the obligation for employees to take responsibility for their
behaviors and decisions (Hall et al. 2009). In other words,
accountability should be crucial in explaining ethical behaviors (Zadek et al. 2013).
Researchers propose that accountability would encourage
organizational members to engage in more ethical behaviors
(Palanski et al. 2011; Schnackenberg and Tomlinson 2014).
Felt accountability has also been related to self-leadership
focused on ethics (Steinbauer et al. 2014). This research further posits that there is a significant relationship between felt
accountability and ethical selling intention. The argument
may be reasonable because previous studies have pointed out
that people perceiving accountability at work are more likely
to feel pressure to improve their ethical behaviors (Riketta
and Landerer 2002). Furthermore, several studies show that
the felt accountability would encourage employees to take
more responsibility for their decisions and actions (Tetlock
1985; McLaren 2004; Bovens et al. 2008). Since employees
are more likely to be held accountable for their behaviors
when accountability is perceived in the organizations, we
posit that felt accountability may affect ethical selling intention. The following hypothesis is developed.
Hypothesis 4 The insurance salespeople’s felt accountability is positively related to the insurance salespeople’s
ethical selling intention.
The Influence of Cost–Benefit Consideration on Ethical
Selling Intention
The link between cost–benefit consideration and behavioral intention is well established and can be explained by
cost–benefit principle and theory of rational choice (Zey
1997; Nas 2016). Cost–benefit principle indicates that people should take an action when, and only when, the benefits of the action outweigh the costs (McGee 2003). The
theory of rational choice then argues that people’s assessment of consequences will influence their decision-making
(Tversky and Kahneman 1986; Ostrom 1998; Suzumura
2009). Previous studies have also shown that cost–benefit
consideration has significant impacts on human decisionmaking. For example, cost–benefit consideration is found
to be a key factor that affects the ethical decisions of public sector decision makers (Whittington and MacRae 1986;
Fuguitt and Wilcox 1999). It is recognized by researchers
that cost–benefit consideration may influence the employees’ intention to comply with internet security policies (Li
et al. 2010). In the marketing ethics literature, Singhapakdi et al. (2013) show that love of money is associated
with the ethical intentions of marketing practitioners. It is
also found that the method of sales compensation would
affect the salespeople’s ethical decision-making (Román
and Luis Munuera 2005). Since it is pointed out that
perceived negative outcome for unethical behavior is an
important factor in forming the choice of ethical behavior
(James 2000), it could be plausible to argue that cost–benefit consideration (e.g., positive or negative outcome for
the unethical behavior) could affect ethical selling intention. Summarizing the above, we believe that cost–benefit
consideration affects ethical selling intention. Hence, we
propose:
Hypothesis 5 The insurance salespeople’s cost–benefit
consideration is positively related to the insurance salespeople’s ethical selling intention.
Implicit Ethics Institutionalization and Ethical Selling
Intention: The Mediating Effect of Felt Accountability
The relationship between implicit ethics institutionalization and ethical intentions may be changed by other variables (Singhapakdi et al. 2010). Hypothesis 1 posits that
implicit ethics institutionalization positively relates to felt
accountability. Hypothesis 4 then shows that felt accountability relates positively to ethical selling intention. As
discussed previously, Hypothesis 3 links implicit ethics
institutionalization and ethical selling intention. Therefore,
the hypotheses suggest that implicit ethics institutionalization affects ethical selling intention via its effects on felt
accountability. According to previous research, the dimensions of implicit ethics institutionalization, such as ethical
leadership and ethical climate, may allow the organizations to enhance their accountability (Schwepker et al.
1997; Vitell and Singhapakdi 2008; Miceli et al. 2013;
Vitell et al. 2015). Researchers agree that accountability
provides organizations with the opportunity to differentiate
between employees’ behaviors (Schnackenberg and Tomlinson 2014). Previous studies also suggest that accountability can improve ethical behaviors (Bovens et al. 2008).
In light of the aforementioned reasoning, the present study
argues that felt accountability is a possible mediator of
the relationship between implicit ethics institutionalization
and ethical selling intention. The following hypothesis is
developed.
13
L.-M. Tseng
Hypothesis 6 Felt accountability mediates the relationship
between implicit ethics institutionalization and the insurance
salespeople’s ethical selling intention.
The Mediating Effect of Cost–Benefit Consideration
on the Relationship Between Implicit Ethics
Institutionalization and Ethical Selling Intention
Hypothesis 2 and Hypothesis 5 link implicit ethics institutionalization with cost–benefit consideration, and cost–benefit consideration with ethical selling intention. On the other
hand, Hypothesis 3 links implicit ethics institutionalization with ethical selling intention. The discussion suggests
that implicit ethics institutionalization affects ethical selling intention via its effects on cost–benefit consideration.
Therefore, we suggest that cost–benefit consideration plays
a mediating role in the relationship between implicit ethics
institutionalization and ethical selling intention. To test this
argument, we propose the following hypothesis.
Hypothesis 7 Cost–benefit consideration mediates the
relationship between implicit ethics institutionalization and
the insurance salespeople’s ethical selling intention.
Methodology
to the author(s) directly. When the respondents had completed the questionnaires, they were asked to seal them in
the envelopes provided. Ultimately, the final usable sample
consisted of 289 Taiwanese life insurance salespeople from
four well-known life insurance companies (valid response
rate = 72.25%). Describing the sample briefly, a total of
51.6% of the respondents were females, and 69.6% had a
bachelor’s degree. Regarding job position, 46.0% were frontline insurance salespeople with managerial work (Table 1).
Questionnaire Development
Previous studies examining ethics institutionalization usually
relied on questionnaire surveys (e.g., Singhapakdi and Vitell
2007). Researchers reminded us that ethical decisions were
often situational or issue related (Singhapakdi et al. 1996).
Therefore, questionnaire surveys with scenarios would be
recommended, because the scenario method allowed for
greater control over the situational and ethical issues. In
addition, the scenario method could remove information
that might be irrelevant to the research (Beu et al. 2003).
Questionnaire surveys with scenarios have also been used
in studying the relationship between cost–benefit consideration and ethical intention (e.g., Hunt and Vasquez-Parraga
1993). To examine the relationships among the insurance
Sample
Table 1 Profile of respondents
This study invited Taiwan’s life insurance salespeople as the
research respondents. In this research, a purposive sampling
procedural was employed to recruit the leading life insurance
companies in Taiwan. With approval from the management,
the selected companies were given survey questionnaires
containing measures of demographics, implicit ethics institutionalization, felt accountability, cost–benefit consideration and ethical selling intention. The author(s) visited these
companies and collected data in person. A total of 400 surveys were distributed to the respondents.
During the investigation, the respondents were given a
cover letter explaining the purpose of the study. It was suggested that using anonymous questionnaires can alleviate
the problem of social desirability responses (Richman et al.
1999). Hence, the respondents were encouraged to answer
all questions candidly and were assured of complete anonymity. To alleviate the problem of common method bias,
the research design then included questionnaire anonymity
and confidentiality (Podsakoff and Organ 1986; Podsakoff
et al. 2003). Therefore, the respondents were also informed
that their participation in this study was voluntary and that
individual responses would be held in strict confidence.
The respondents were asked to fill out the questionnaires during the session and return the questionnaires
Version
A
B
Gender
Female
Male
Marriage
Single
Married
Age
20–29
30–39
40–49
50–59
60 or above
Education
Senior high school
5 years of college
Bachelor’s degree
Postgraduate degree
Job position
No managerial work
With managerial work
13
Variables
Frequency
Percentage
149
140
51.6
48.4
149
140
51.6
48.4
167
122
57.8
42.2
129
100
47
13
44.6
34.6
16.3
4.5
2
71
201
15
0.7
24.6
69.6
5.1
156
133
54.0
46.0
How Implicit Ethics Institutionalization Affects Ethical Selling Intention: The Case of…
salespeople’s perceptions of implicit ethics institutionalization, felt accountability, cost–benefit consideration and ethical selling intention, a questionnaire survey with scenario
method was employed.
The questionnaire consisted of the following format. The
first page of the questionnaire contained questions pertaining
to implicit ethics institutionalization and felt accountability.
After completing the questions about implicit ethics institutionalization and felt accountability, the respondents were
asked to turn to the next page which presented the scenarios.
After the scenarios were read, the respondents needed to
answer the questions concerning their reactions. The reactions included the respondents’ cost–benefit consideration
and ethical selling intention.
Scenarios
We developed two versions of scenarios (i.e., version A and
version B). Each questionnaire contained one scenario. The
scenarios were designed by the authors, and it concerned
two types of ethical dilemmas (Table 2): dishonest selling
practice that created a positive outcome (version A) and honest selling practice that created a negative outcome (version B). The respondents were assigned to questionnaire
version A or questionnaire version B randomly. Since all
Table 2 Scenarios
Scenario
Context
X was an insurance agent and a customer had
recently asked X to recommend a newly
launched product. After detailed discussions
with the customer, X realized that the company’s new product did not meet the needs of
the customer in question. However, X encouraged the customer to buy this product with
an exaggerated and misleading description.
Afterward, X successfully sold the product, which increased the performance that
the company wanted to expand, and X also
earned a commission of NT 30,000 dollars
X was an insurance agent and a customer had
B
Honest selling prac- recently asked X to recommend a newly
launched product. After detailed discussions
tice that created a
with the customer, X realized that the comnegative outcome
pany’s new product did not meet the needs
of the customer in question. X described this
product as honestly and accurately as possible, and tried to recommend other products
which were more appropriate for the customer. Unfortunately, X’s suggestions were
immediately rejected by the customer. Afterward, X failed to increase the performance
that the company wanted to expand, and X
also lost the opportunity to earn a commission
of NT 30,000 dollars
A
Dishonest selling
practice that
created a positive
outcome
1 US dollar is about NT 30 dollars
questionnaires were randomly assigned to the respondents
and each respondent would only receive one version of the
questionnaire, the problem of social desirability could be
insignificant (Churchill and Iacobucci 2006).
At the beginning of the scenario, all the respondents were
informed: “Please read the following scenario and imagine
that the event happened to you, and then answer the following questions.” The respondents were informed that the
questionnaire was anonymous, and there were “no right or
wrong answers,” to avoid social desirability responses (Podsakoff et al. 2003).
Measurement
In this research, all the constructs were measured by multiple items on a seven‐point Likert‐type scale (from 1 = totally
disagree to 7 = totally agree). The internal consistency was
estimated using Cronbach’s α (Table 4). Before reading
the scenarios, the respondents were required to answer the
questions about implicit ethics institutionalization and felt
accountability.
(1) Implicit ethics institutionalization
Singhapakdi and Vitell (2007) proposed an empirical study
to discuss the institutionalization of ethics and its consequences. They developed a reliable and valid scale for
the measurement of the institutionalization of ethics in
organizations. The scale has two dimensions: explicit
institutionalization ethics (this construct was assessed
by seven items) and implicit ethics institutionalization
(this construct was assessed by nine items). The scale
was subsequently used by other researchers (e.g., Lee
et al. 2015). In this study, implicit ethics institutionalization was measured with nine items from the research
of Singhapakdi and Vitell (2007). Before reading the
scenarios, the respondents were asked to answer the
questions about implicit ethics institutionalization.
Sample questions were: “Top management has established a legacy of integrity for the organization,” “Top
management believes that ethical behavior, not just
legal compliance, is paramount to the success of the
organization” and “In my organization there is a sense
of responsibility among employees for maintaining
an ethical reputation.” The measure is shown in its
entirety in Table 3, and the internal consistency analysis for this construct indicated a Cronbach alpha value
of 0.964118 (Table 4).
(2) Felt accountability
Before reading the scenarios, the respondents were required
to answer the questions about felt accountability. The
concept of felt accountability was measured in terms
of the study of Hochwarter et al. (2003). The main
aim of their study was to investigate the impacts of felt
13
L.-M. Tseng
Table 3 Constructs and items
Constructs
Items
Implicit ethics institutionalization
1. Top management has established a legacy of integrity for the organization
2. Top management believes that ethical behavior, not just legal compliance, is paramount to the
success of the organization
3. In my organization there is a sense of responsibility among employees for maintaining an ethical
reputation
4. Top management in my organization accepts responsibility for unethical and illegal decisionmaking on the part of employees
5. There is open communication between superiors and subordinates to discuss ethical conflicts
and dilemmas
6. Some employees in my organization are allowed to perform certain questionable actions because
they are successful in achieving their organizational objectives (R)
7. In my organization, there are no rewards for good ethical decisions (R)
8. There is a shared value system and an understanding of what constitutes appropriate behavior in
my organization
9. Top management believes that our organization should help to improve the quality of life and the
general welfare of society
1. I am held very accountable for my actions at work
2. I often have to explain why I do certain things at work
3. Top management holds me accountable for all of my decisions
4. If things at work do not go the way that they should, I will hear about it from top management
5. To a great extent, the success of my immediate work group rests on my shoulders
6. The jobs of many people at work depend on my success or failure
7. In the grand scheme of things, my efforts at work are very important
8. Co-workers, subordinates, and managers closely scrutinize my efforts at work
1. X’s behavior will bring many negative outcomes
2. X’s behavior will generate more disadvantages than advantages
3. X’s behavior is actually very economically inefficient
1. If I were X, I would not do anything to deceive customers
2. If I were X, I would not sell any inappropriate products to customers
3. If I were X, I would never use exaggerated descriptions to attract customers to purchase products
Felt accountability
Cost–benefit consideration
Ethical selling intention
accountability on the human resources management
systems, such as performance evaluations, compensation and disciplinary procedures. In this study, felt
accountability was assessed by eight items of a measure
developed by Hochwarter et al. (2003). This measure
had been used in organizational behavior study concerning the impacts of felt accountability on job tension
and job performance (Hochwarter et al. 2007). Representative items included: “I am held very accountable
for my actions at work” and “I often have to explain
why I do certain things at work.” Cronbach’s alpha for
this construct was 0.933692 in the current study.
(3) Cost–benefit consideration
Drawing upon the core ideas of previous literatures (Gardner
and Steinberg 2005; Mishan and Quah 2007; Kouchaki
et al. 2013), we measured cost–benefit consideration
with a three-item scale reflecting the extent to which
a behavior could generate more disadvantages than
advantages. The situation described in questionnaire
version A was an insurance salesperson selling an inappropriate insurance product to a customer through an
exaggerated and misleading sales method. The situation
described in questionnaire version B was the opposite.
13
It described an insurance salesperson engaged in sales
work by adhering to an honest sales method, but the
salesperson did not convince the customer and finally
the opportunity of earning commission was lost. After
reading the scenarios, the respondents were asked to
record their cost–benefit consideration. The construct
of cost–benefit consideration was measured by asking
the respondents whether or not they perceived that X’s
behavior would cause more disadvantages than advantages. Representative items included: “X’s behavior
will bring many negative outcomes” and “X’s behavior
will generate more disadvantages than advantages.”
Cronbach’s alpha for this construct was 0.861616.
(4) Ethical selling intention
The scenario described in questionnaire version A and
questionnaire version B is different. After reading the
scenarios, the respondents were asked to record their
ethical selling intention. The theory of planned behavior (TPB) was widely used to predict human behavior
(Ajzen 1991). According to TPB, behavioral intention
was an important variable that affected actual behaviors (Ajzen et al. 2004). To measure the respondents’
ethical selling intention, three items were designed by
How Implicit Ethics Institutionalization Affects Ethical Selling Intention: The Case of…
Table 4 Construct checks
Constructs
Item
Factor loading
AVE
Composite reliability
Cronbach’s α
1. Implicit ethics institutionalization
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
1
2
3
1
2
3
4
0.921410
0.921808
0.919846
0.896515
0.882681
0.828135
0.794079
0.888084
0.879841
0.822381
0.851163
0.756941
0.836135
0.731854
0.863545
0.878728
0.867629
0.925486
0.778321
0.942591
0.936899
0.928659
0.865235
0.910139
0.778543
0.969297
0.964118
0.684892
0.945426
0.933692
0.783595
0.915165
0.861616
0.829293
0.951014
0.933856
2. Felt accountability
3. Cost–benefit consideration
4. Ethical selling intention
All loadings are significant at p < 0.01
the authors. The items indicated the respondents’ perceived likelihood that they would engage in an unethical selling behavior. Those items were developed in
terms of previous studies on behavioral intention
(Ajzen 1991; Fishbein and Ajzen 2011). Representative
items included: “If I were X, I would not do anything
to deceive customers” and “If I were X, I would not sell
any inappropriate products to customers.” Cronbach’s
alpha for this construct was 0.933856.
Pilot Tests
The questionnaires were developed based on a literature
review and the author(s)’ preliminary interviews with ten
experienced life insurance salespeople. To ensure the readability of the wording used in the questionnaires, the author(s)
conducted three meetings for pilot tests. The questionnaires
were revised based on problems identified in the pilot tests.
Construct Checks
This research examined the factor loadings, Cronbach’s
alpha, composite reliability and average variance extracted
(AVE) by using partial least squares regression (PLS
regression) method. To check the multicollinearity issue,
the variance inflation factor values (VIFs) was used to
examine the effect of multicollinearity. The results of
Table 4 indicated that all the factor loadings exceeded the
0.7 criterion. The values of composite reliability exceeded
0.60. The values of Cronbach’s α were above 0.7, suggesting appropriate reliability. The values of AVE were higher
than 0.5, representing adequate convergent validity.
Table 5 presented the correlations of constructs. Variance inflation factors (VlFs) were used to check the problem of multicollinearity. It was suggested that VIFs values exceeding 4 would imply serious multicollinearity
problems (Montgomery and Runger 2010). As given in
Table 5, the values of VIFs showed a range from 1.023
to 2.958 indicating no serious problems with the multicollinearity issue. Table 5 then presents the square root
of AVE. The square root of the AVE was used to examine the discriminant validity. When the square root of the
AVE for each construct was higher than the correlation
between the variable and other variables, the measured
constructs could have appropriate discriminant validity.
Table 5 showed that all the square roots of AVE exceeded
13
L.-M. Tseng
Table 5 Correlations for the
constructs and the square root
of AVE
1. Implicit ethics institutionalization
2. Felt accountability
3. Cost–benefit consideration
4. Ethical selling intention
2
3
(0.882)
0.702**
0.239**
0.531**
(0.828)
0.159**
0.545**
4
VIFs
(0.885)
0.295**
2.958
1.695
1.023
(0.911)
The number in parenthesis is the square root of AVE
* Significant at p < 0.05; ** significant at p < 0.01
the correlation coefficients, implying that the model has
appropriate discriminant validity.
Data Analysis
Exploratory factor analysis was conducted to generate the
distinguished constructs, and the value of 0.5 was used as
the cutting‐off criterion for the items in the constructs (Fabrigar and Wegener 2011). PLS regression method was a
distribution-free approach and allowed for causal analysis
in the situation of complex relationships among constructs.
Moreover, PLS regression method accounted for measurement error and works well with conceptual models that contained mediating effects (Hair et al. 2011; Hair et al. 2012;
Lohmöller 2013). Therefore, this research tested the hypotheses by applying PLS regression method.
Results
Scenario A concerns a situation in which the agent X obtains
a profitable outcome through an unethical behavior. Table 6
indicates the results of the testing hypotheses. As seen in
Table 6, implicit ethics institutionalization is positively
related to both felt accountability (β = 0.673, t = 14.295,
p < 0.01) and cost–benefit consideration (β = 0.312,
t = 5.607, p < 0.01). Additionally, implicit ethics institutionalization is also positively related to ethical selling
intention (β = 0.210, t = 2.326, p < 0.05). Thus, H1, H2
and H3 are supported. H4 postulates a positive relationship
between felt accountability and ethical selling intention
(β = 0.253, t = 3.130, p < 0.01). H5 predicts a direct effect
of cost–benefit consideration on ethical selling intention
(β = 0.357, t = 5.086, p < 0.01). Table 6 shows that the
hypotheses are supported.
H6 states that felt accountability mediates the relationship between implicit ethics institutionalization and the
insurance salespeople’s ethical selling intention. To test the
mediating effects of felt accountability, we adopt the four
conditions that are suggested by Baron and Kenny (1986).
According to Baron and Kenny (1986), the four conditions
need be satisfied in order to statistically support the effect
of mediation. The first condition is to check the relationship between the independent variable and dependent variable. Baron and Kenny (1986) point out that there must be
a significant relationship between the independent variable (implicit ethics institutionalization) and the dependent
variable (ethical selling intention). The result shows that
implicit ethics institutionalization has a significantly positive relationship with ethical selling intention (β = 0.495,
t = 9.601, p < 0.01), which supports the first condition. The
second condition is to show that the independent variable
(implicit ethics institutionalization) affects the mediator (felt
accountability). The results show that implicit ethics institutionalization has a significantly positive relationship with
felt accountability (β = 0.676, t = 14.108, p < 0.01), which
supported the second condition. In the third condition, there
must be a significant effect of the mediator on the dependent variable. The results support the third condition because
it is found that felt accountability has a significantly positive relationship with ethical selling intention (β = 0.495,
t = 8.696, p < 0.01). In the fourth condition, we test whether
or not the mediator reduces the effects of implicit ethics
institutionalization on ethical selling intention. The results
Table 6 Results for version A
Hypotheses
H1
H2
H3
H4
H5
Implicit ethics institutionalization → Felt accountability
Implicit ethics institutionalization → Cost–benefit consideration
Implicit ethics institutionalization → Ethical selling intention
Felt accountability → Ethical selling intention
Cost–benefit consideration → Ethical selling intention
* Significant at p < 0.05; ** significant at p < 0.01
13
Path coefficient
t value
Supported?
0.673**
0.312**
0.210*
0.253**
0.357**
14.295
5.607
2.326
3.130
5.086
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
Yes
How Implicit Ethics Institutionalization Affects Ethical Selling Intention: The Case of…
show that the path coefficient between implicit ethics institutionalization and ethical selling intention is reduced from
0.495 (β = 0.495, t = 9.601, p < 0.01) to 0.304 (β = 0.304,
t = 3.139, p < 0.01). Hence, the results support the partial
mediation effect of felt accountability (H6 is supported).
H7 proposes that cost–benefit consideration could mediate the relationship between implicit ethics institutionalization and ethical selling intention. Again, we adopt the four
conditions that are suggested by Baron and Kenny (1986).
The results indicate that implicit ethics institutionalization
positively relates to ethical selling intention (β = 0.495,
t = 9.601, p < 0.01), which supports the first condition.
The results further show that implicit ethics institutionalization positively relates to cost–benefit consideration
(β = 0.316, t = 5.642, p < 0.01), and cost–benefit consideration positively relates to ethical selling intention (β = 0.489,
t = 7.431, p < 0.01), which support the second and third
conditions. The results then show that the path coefficient
between implicit ethics institutionalization and ethical selling intention is reduced from 0.495 to 0.378 (β = 0.378,
t = 5.733, p < 0.01). The fourth condition is fulfilled, and
therefore the results support the partial mediation effect of
cost–benefit consideration (H7 is supported).
In scenario B, the insurance salespeople are informed that
the honest selling behavior will lead to an unprofitable outcome. Table 7 indicates that H1, H3 and H4 are supported.
H2 postulates a positive relationship between implicit ethics
institutionalization and cost–benefit consideration. H5 postulates a positive relationship between cost–benefit consideration and ethical selling intention. Table 7 shows that the
hypotheses are not supported.
H6 is tested based on Baron and Kenny’s (1986) four
conditions. The results show that implicit ethics institutionalization positively relates to ethical selling intention
(β = 0.491, t = 8.458, p < 0.01), supporting the first condition. The results then show that implicit ethics institutionalization affects the felt accountability (β = 0.606, t = 12.182,
p < 0.01), and felt accountability influences ethical selling
intention (β = 0.614, t = 12.388, p < 0.01), supporting the
second and third conditions. Finally, the results show that
the path coefficient between implicit ethics institutionalization and ethical selling intention is reduced from 0.491 to
0.204 (β = 0. 204, t = 2.559, p < 0.01), supporting the fourth
condition. Hence, H6 is supported.
H7 argues that cost–benefit consideration would mediate the relationship between implicit ethics institutionalization and ethical selling intention. However, the results show
that the implicit ethics institutionalization does not relate to
cost–benefit consideration (β = 0.227, t = 1.402, p > 0.05),
and cost–benefit consideration does not relate to ethical selling intention (β = 0.090, t = 0.820, p > 0.05). Thus, H7 is
not supported.
Discussion
This paper provides an examination of the mediating effects
of felt accountability and cost–benefit consideration on the
relationship between implicit ethics institutionalization and
ethical selling intention. The research hypotheses are tested
using a scenario-based design in a hypothetical insurance
selling context. We design two versions of questionnaires.
The situation described in questionnaire A is an insurance
salesperson selling an inappropriate insurance product to
a customer through an exaggerated and misleading sales
method. Although the insurance salesperson earns commission, obviously the selling of an inappropriate product to a
customer through a misleading sales method is unethical
(Bellizzi and Hasty 2002). The partial least squares analysis for questionnaire version A reveals that the effects of
implicit ethics institutionalization on ethical selling intention
are partially mediated by felt accountability and cost–benefit consideration. The results indicate that the salespeople’s
perception of implicit ethics institutionalization is positively
related to felt accountability and cost–benefit consideration,
which in turn is positively related to ethical selling intention.
The findings imply that implicit ethics institutionalization
leads to increased felt accountability and cost–benefit consideration. Moreover, the key point is that implicit ethics
institutionalization works its beneficial effects on ethical
selling intention through the level of felt accountability and
cost–benefit consideration.
The situation described in questionnaire B is an insurance
salesperson engaging in sales work by adhering to an honest
Table 7 Results for version B
Hypotheses
H1
H2
H3
H4
H5
Implicit ethics institutionalization → Felt accountability
Implicit ethics institutionalization → Cost–benefit consideration
Implicit ethics institutionalization → Ethical selling intention
Felt accountability → Ethical selling intention
Cost–benefit consideration → Ethical selling intention
Path coefficient
t value
Supported?
0.591**
0.009
0.203*
0.483**
0.066
11.950
0.128
2.471
5.650
1.089
Yes
No
Yes
Yes
No
*Significant at p < 0.05; ** significant at p < 0.01
13
L.-M. Tseng
sales method. Yet, the salesperson is refused by the customer
in the end. The results for questionnaire version B indicate
that implicit ethics institutionalization is positively related to
felt accountability. Felt accountability is, in turn, positively
related to ethical selling intention. Nevertheless, the results
provide no evidence that cost–benefit consideration plays a
mediating role between implicit ethics institutionalization
and ethical selling intention (Table 8). The results show that
the content of ethical dilemmas can result in changes in the
relationship among variables. However, even under the condition of different content of ethical dilemmas, this research
still discovers that felt accountability plays an important
mediating role. In other words, future research should not
ignore the importance of felt accountability when studying
the relationship between implicit ethics institutionalization
and ethical selling intention.
Conceptual Contributions
Although researchers have previously discussed the antecedents of ethical selling behaviors (Cadogan et al. 2009; Agnihotri et al. 2012; Kadic-Maglajlic et al. 2017), the impacts
of implicit ethics institutionalization on ethical selling have
been less mentioned. Previous studies on sales ethics suggest that ethical work climate could play an important role
in controlling the problems of salesperson unethical behaviors (Mulki et al. 2009). Therefore, the studies on salesperson unethical behaviors should involve the consideration of
implicit ethics institutionalization because implicit ethics
institutionalization has a significant influence on the ethical decision-making of marketing practitioners (Vitell et al.
2015). The findings of this study show the positive effect of
implicit ethics institutionalization on ethical selling intention. The findings may contribute to the relevant literature,
which emphasizes the importance of implicit ethics institutionalization in enhancing workplace ethical behaviors (Lee
et al. 2015).
This study also provides new observations about the
impacts of felt accountability and strengthens the idea that
felt accountability plays a critical role in the relationship
Table 8 Summary of findings
Hypotheses
Version A
Version B
H1
H2
H3
H4
H5
H6
Supported
Supported
Supported
Supported
Supported
Supported
Supported
NO
Supported
Supported
NO
Supported
Supported
NO
H7
13
between implicit ethics institutionalization and ethical selling intention. Previous research points out that felt accountability is a prerequisite for job performance (Wallace et al.
2011; Chen et al. 2016). In this study, we identify felt
accountability as a mediating factor through which implicit
ethics institutionalization benefits ethical selling intention.
We also find that the impact of implicit ethics institutionalization on felt accountability is significantly positive. The
finding of this study not only provides empirical support
for the positive impact of felt accountability on workplace
behaviors (Hall et al. 2009), but also highlights that implicit
ethics institutionalization could be one of the foundational
mechanisms that enable companies to sustain a higher level
of felt accountability.
It is important for the researchers to further clarify the
antecedents and consequences of cost–benefit consideration
because this construct has been acknowledged as an important variable to determine marketing misconducts (Hunt and
Vitell 1986, 2006). This study checks whether or not the
relationship between implicit ethics institutionalization on
ethical selling intention can be affected by the salespeople’s
cost–benefit consideration. To the best of our knowledge,
previous studies have not examined this relationship. The
results of this study indicate that, in a certain situation (such
as questionnaire version A), a salesperson’s cost–benefit
consideration can partially mediate the relationship between
implicit ethics institutionalization on ethical selling intention. This study distinguishes itself by expanding previous
research by incorporating the mediation effect of cost–benefit consideration along the path from implicit ethics institutionalization to ethical selling intention. By doing so, this
research could extend the existing knowledge on the study
of cost–benefit consideration in the sales ethics literature.
Singhapakdi et al. (1996) point out that “Ethical decision-making is often situation-specific. That is, an ethical
dilemma is often judged within its situational context.” In
this regard, the relationships among implicit ethics institutionalization, felt accountability, cost–benefit consideration and ethical selling intention may need to be examined
according to the situational differences. This paper attempts
Implicit ethics institutionalization → Felt accountability
Implicit ethics institutionalization → Cost–benefit consideration
Implicit ethics institutionalization → Ethical selling intention
Felt accountability → Ethical selling intention
Cost–benefit consideration → Ethical selling intention
Implicit ethics institutionalization → Felt accountability → Ethical
selling intention
Implicit ethics institutionalization → Cost–benefit consideration → Ethical selling intention
How Implicit Ethics Institutionalization Affects Ethical Selling Intention: The Case of…
to examine the relationships based on two different types of
ethical dilemmas. The results show that felt accountability is
found to be an important mediator in the two ethical dilemmas. Yet, the research results for questionnaire version B
show that cost–benefit consideration plays an insignificant
role in the link between implicit ethics institutionalization
and ethical selling intention. The results of this study support the need to emphasize the situational context of ethical
dilemmas when studying the relationship between implicit
ethics institutionalization and ethical selling intention.
Previous studies on implicit ethics institutionalization
using samples from western countries, such as the USA,
have found that implicit ethics institutionalization is positively related to ethical decision-making (e.g., Singhapakdi
et al. 2010). Yet, there has been a lack of empirical verification of this relationship in the context of non-western
countries. Given the lack of research on implicit ethics
institutionalization in Asian countries, the present study,
with a sample from Taiwan, on the effect of implicit ethics
institutionalization on felt accountability, cost–benefit consideration as well as ethical selling intention may constitute
a contribution to the previous studies.
In conclusion, this research tries to open the black box on
the relationship between implicit ethics institutionalization
and ethical selling intention. The results of the literature
review reveal that no study, to the best of our knowledge,
has examined the role of felt accountability and cost–benefit
consideration in mediating this relationship. As the findings
show, implicit ethics institutionalization can positively influence ethical selling intention through felt accountability and
cost–benefit consideration. The findings of this study may
provide a contribution to the relevant literature.
Practical Implications
As predicted, implicit ethics institutionalization plays an
important role in forming ethical selling intention. The
results provide support for the argument that the companies could improve the salespeople’s ethical selling intention by establishing implicit ethics institutionalization in the
companies. Researchers also suggest that companies should
communicate values of ethics to salespeople (Ingram et al.
2007). This may enhance the salespeople’s perception of
implicit ethics institutionalization. Vitell et al. (2015) find
that explicit ethics institutionalization is positively associated with implicit ethics institutionalization. Based on Vitell
et al.’s (2015) finding, we also suggest that the companies
should have formal procedures, such as ethical codes, in
place to manage the problems of unethical selling behaviors because this may increase the salespeople’s perception
of implicit ethics institutionalization.
Given the finding that the positive influence of implicit
ethics institutionalization on ethical selling intention is
partially mediated by felt accountability, the companies
should know that implicit ethics institutionalization alone
may not eliminate the problems of unethical selling behaviors. We suggest that the companies should try to affect the
salespeople’s feeling of accountability by using implicit ethics systems (e.g., ethical work climate), which would make
the salespeople believe that they are held accountable for
their unethical selling behaviors. Questionnaire version A
describes a salesperson selling a product and earning his
commission through a dishonest sales method. The findings
show that, in this situation, the salespeople’s cost–benefit
consideration could mediate and reduce the direct relationship between implicit ethics institutionalization and ethical
selling intention. The findings suggest that the commission
manipulation may not result in ethical selling behaviors.
Hence, the companies should not ignore the possible negative impacts of commission manipulation on the salespeople’s cost–benefit consideration. Yet, our results show that
implicit ethics institutionalization has a positive relationship
to the salespeople’s cost–benefit consideration. The results
of this study suggest the importance of implicit ethics institutionalization for enhancing the salespeople’s cost–benefit
consideration and ethical selling intention.
Limitations
The current study has several limitations. The first limitation is the causal relationships among implicit ethics institutionalization, felt accountability, cost–benefit consideration
and ethical selling intention. In this respect, a longitudinal
research design is needed to examine the causal relationship
among the variables. The use of surveys is also a limitation
in this study. We cannot be sure how the respondents may
interpret the wording in the questionnaires. Hence, it is suggested that different methodologies could be used in future
research. For example, an in-depth qualitative approach
could be used. Second, we collected data from insurance
companies in Taiwan. It is not guaranteed that the findings
will apply to other countries or other types of companies.
Thus, future research with data from different countries and
from diverse forms of companies is recommended to verify
whether our findings are applicable to other contexts. Third,
there may be other possible mediating variables influencing the relationship between implicit ethics institutionalization and ethical selling intention. Therefore, we suggest
that future research on the relationship between implicit ethics institutionalization and ethical selling intention can be
extended by examining different mediators. Fourth, although
behavioral intention is considered a qualified expression of
behavior, it is important to emphasize that behavioral intention may not always forecast behavior. In fact, it is pointed
out that there are several factors that could covary with the
intention-behavior consistency (Sheeran and Abraham 2003;
13
L.-M. Tseng
Webb and Sheeran 2006). We also note this issue as a limitation of this study. Finally, the order in which questions
are presented in the questionnaires could have a significant
effect on the responses (Beatty et al. 1985). To control for
the order bias, it is suggested that the researchers could try
to randomize the order of questions (Wright 2005). This
study does not randomize the order of question items. To
make future research more rigorous, careful attention must
be given to this issue.
Compliance with Ethical Standards Conflict of interest The author declares that he has no conflict of
interest.
Ethical Statements This research was supported by a grant from the
Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST 106-2410-H-035-026),
Taiwan. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional
and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
References
Agnihotri, R., Rapp, A., Kothandaraman, P., & Singh, R. K. (2012). An
emotion-based model of salesperson ethical behaviors. Journal
of Business Ethics, 109(2), 243–257.
Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational
Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50(2), 179–211.
Ajzen, I., Brown, T. C., & Carvajal, F. (2004). Explaining the discrepancy between intentions and actions: The case of hypothetical
bias in contingent valuation. Personality and Social Psychology
Bulletin, 30(9), 1108–1121.
Al-Rafee, S., & Cronan, T. P. (2006). Digital piracy: Factors that influence attitude toward behavior. Journal of Business Ethics, 63(3),
237–259.
Anderson, E., & Oliver, R. L. (1987). Perspectives on behavior-based
versus outcome-based salesforce control systems. Journal of
Marketing, 51(4), 76–88.
Baron, R. M., & Kenny, D. A. (1986). The moderator–mediator variable distinction in social psychological research: Conceptual,
strategic, and statistical considerations. Journal of Personality
and Social Psychology, 51(6), 1173.
Bateman, C. R., Valentine, S., & Rittenburg, T. (2013). Ethical decision making in a peer-to-peer file sharing situation: The role of
moral absolutes and social consensus. Journal of Business Ethics, 115(2), 229–240.
Beatty, S. E., Kahle, L. R., Homer, P., & Misra, S. (1985). Alternative
measurement approaches to consumer values: the list of values
and the Rokeach value survey. Psychology & Marketing, 2(3),
181–200.
Bellizzi, J. A., & Hasty, R. W. (2002). Supervising unethical sales
force behavior: Do men and women managers discipline men
and women subordinates uniformly? Journal of Business Ethics,
40(2), 155–166.
Beu, D., & Buckley, M. R. (2001). The hypothesized relationship
between accountability and ethical behavior. Journal of Business Ethics, 34(1), 57–73.
Beu, D. S., & Buckley, M. R. (2004). Using accountability to create
a more ethical climate. Human Resource Management Review,
14(1), 67–83.
13
Beu, D. S., Buckley, M. R., & Harvey, M. G. (2003). Ethical decision–making: A multidimensional construct. Business Ethics: A
European Review, 12(1), 88–107.
Bhagat, S., & Romano, R. (2009). Reforming executive compensation:
Simplicity, transparency and committing to the long-term. Yale
Law & Economics Research Paper, (393).
Bovens, M., Schillemans, T., & Hart, P. T. (2008). Does public
accountability work? An assessment tool. Public Administration, 86(1), 225–242.
Brown, M. E., & Treviño, L. K. (2006). Ethical leadership: A review
and future directions. The Leadership Quarterly, 17(6), 595–616.
Cadogan, J. W., Lee, N., Tarkiainen, A., & Sundqvist, S. (2009). Sales
manager and sales team determinants of salesperson ethical
behaviour. European Journal of Marketing, 43(7/8), 907–937.
Chang, M. K. (1998). Predicting unethical behavior: A comparison of
the theory of reasoned action and the theory of planned behavior.
Journal of Business Ethics, 17(16), 1825–1834.
Chen, C. H. V., Yuan, M. L., Cheng, J. W., & Seifert, R. (2016). Linking transformational leadership and core self-evaluation to job
performance: The mediating role of felt accountability. The North
American Journal of Economics and Finance, 35, 234–246.
Churchill, G. A., & Iacobucci, D. (2006). Marketing research: Methodological foundations. New York: Dryden Press.
Craft, J. L. (2013). A review of the empirical ethical decision-making literature: 2004–2011. Journal of Business Ethics, 117(2),
221–259.
Duh, M., Belak, J., & Milfelner, B. (2010). Core values, culture and
ethical climate as constitutional elements of ethical behaviour:
Exploring differences between family and non-family enterprises. Journal of Business Ethics, 97(3), 473–489.
Fabrigar, L. R., & Wegener, D. T. (2011). Exploratory factor analysis.
Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Fishbein, M., & Ajzen, I. (2011). Predicting and changing behavior:
The reasoned action approach. Abington: Taylor & Francis.
Frink, D. D., & Ferris, G. R. (1999). The moderating effects of accountability on the conscientiousness-performance relationship. Journal of Business and Psychology, 13(4), 515–524.
Fuguitt, D., & Wilcox, S. J. (1999). Cost-benefit analysis for public
sector decision makers. Westport: Greenwood Publishing Group.
Gardner, M., & Steinberg, L. (2005). Peer influence on risk taking,
risk preference, and risky decision making in adolescence and
adulthood: An experimental study. Developmental Psychology,
41(4), 625.
Goldmann, P. (2010). Financial services anti-fraud risk and control
workbook. Hoboken: Wiley.
Green, D. P., & Fox, J. (2007). Rational choice theory. Social Science Methodology. L (pp. 269–281). Thousand Oaks: Sage
Publications.
Gregory-Smith, I. (2012). Chief executive pay and remuneration committee independence. Oxford Bulletin of Economics and Statistics, 74(4), 510–531.
Hair, J. F., Ringle, C. M., & Sarstedt, M. (2011). PLS-SEM: Indeed a
silver bullet. Journal of Marketing theory and Practice, 19(2),
139–152.
Hair, J. F., Sarstedt, M., Ringle, C. M., & Mena, J. A. (2012). An
assessment of the use of partial least squares structural equation modeling in marketing research. Journal of the Academy of
Marketing Science, 40(3), 414–433.
Hall, A. T., Bowen, M. G., Ferris, G. R., Royle, M. T., & Fitzgibbons,
D. E. (2007). The accountability lens: A new way to view management issues. Business Horizons, 50(5), 405–413.
Hall, A. T., & Ferris, G. R. (2011). Accountability and extra-role
behavior. Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, 23(2),
131–144.
Hall, A. T., Frink, D. D., & Buckley, M. R. (2017). An accountability
account: A review and synthesis of the theoretical and empirical
How Implicit Ethics Institutionalization Affects Ethical Selling Intention: The Case of…
research on felt accountability. Journal of Organizational Behavior, 38(2), 204–224.
Hall, A. T., Royle, M. T., Brymer, R. A., Perrewé, P. L., Ferris, G. R.,
& Hochwarter, W. A. (2006). Relationships between felt accountability as a stressor and strain reactions: The neutralizing role of
autonomy across two studies. Journal of Occupational Health
Psychology, 11(1), 87.
Hall, A. T., Zinko, R., Perryman, A. A., & Ferris, G. R. (2009). Organizational citizenship behavior and reputation mediators in the
relationships between accountability and job performance and
satisfaction. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies,
15(4), 381–392.
Hartwig, M., Voss, J. A., & Wallace, D. B. (2015). Detecting lies in the
financial industry: A survey of investment professionals’ beliefs.
Journal of Behavioral Finance, 16(2), 173–182.
Hochwarter, W. A., Ferris, G. R., Gavin, M. B., Perrewé, P. L., Hall,
A. T., & Frink, D. D. (2007). Political skill as neutralizer of
felt accountability—Job tension effects on job performance ratings: A longitudinal investigation. Organizational Behavior and
Human Decision Processes, 102(2), 226–239.
Hochwarter, W. A., Kacmar, C., & Ferris, G. R. (2003). Accountability at work: An examination of antecedents and consequences.
Orlando, FL: In annual meeting of the Society of Industrial and
Organizational Psychology.
Hunt, S. D., & Vasquez-Parraga, A. Z. (1993). Organizational consequences, marketing ethics, and salesforce supervision. Journal
of Marketing Research, 30(1), 78.
Hunt, S. D., & Vitell, S. (1986). A general theory of marketing ethics.
Journal of macromarketing, 6(1), 5–16.
Hunt, S. D., & Vitell, S. J. (2006). The general theory of marketing
ethics: A revision and three questions. Journal of Macromarketing, 26(2), 143–153.
Huse, M. (2005). Accountability and creating accountability: A framework for exploring behavioural perspectives of corporate governance. British Journal of Management, 16(s1), S65–S79.
Ingram, T. N., LaForge, R. W., & Schwepker, C. H., Jr. (2007). Salesperson ethical decision making: The impact of sales leadership
and sales management control strategy. Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management, 27(4), 301–315.
James, H. S. (2000). Reinforcing ethical decision making through
organizational structure. Journal of Business Ethics, 28(1),
43–58.
Jin, K. G., Drozdenko, R., & DeLoughy, S. (2013). The role of corporate value clusters in ethics, social responsibility, and performance: A study of financial professionals and implications for the
financial meltdown. Journal of Business Ethics, 112(1), 15–24.
Kadic-Maglajlic, S., Micevski, M., Lee, N., Boso, N., & Vida, I.
(2017). Three levels of ethical influences on selling behavior
and performance: Synergies and tensions. Journal of Business
Ethics. doi:10.1007/s10551-017-3588-1.
Koonmee, K., Singhapakdi, A., Virakul, B., & Lee, D. J. (2010).
Ethics institutionalization, quality of work life, and employee
job-related outcomes: A survey of human resource managers in
Thailand. Journal of Business Research, 63(1), 20–26.
Kouchaki, M., Smith-Crowe, K., Brief, A. P., & Sousa, C. (2013).
Seeing green: Mere exposure to money triggers a business decision frame and unethical outcomes. Organizational Behavior and
Human Decision Processes, 121(1), 53–61.
Langhe, B. D., van Osselaer, S. M. J., & Wierenga, B. (2011). The
effects of process and outcome accountability on judgment process and performance. Organizational Behavior and Human
Decision Processes, 115, 238–252.
Lee, D. J., Grace, B. Y., Sirgy, M. J., Singhapakdi, A., & Lucianetti,
L. (2015). The effects of explicit and implicit ethics institutionalization on employee life satisfaction and happiness: The
mediating effects of employee experiences in work life and
moderating effects of work–family life conflict. Journal of
Business Ethics. doi:10.1007/s10551-015-2984-7.
Li, H., Zhang, J., & Sarathy, R. (2010). Understanding compliance
with internet use policy from the perspective of rational choice
theory. Decision Support Systems, 48(4), 635–645.
Lohmöller, J. B. (2013). Latent variable path modeling with partial
least squares. Berlin: Springer.
Lu, C. S., & Lin, C. C. (2014). The effects of ethical leadership
and ethical climate on employee ethical behavior in the international port context. Journal of Business Ethics, 124(2),
209–223.
Marta, J. K., Singhapakdi, A., Lee, D. J., Sirgy, M. J., Koonmee, K., &
Virakul, B. (2013). Perceptions about ethics institutionalization
and quality of work life: Thai versus American marketing managers. Journal of Business Research, 66(3), 381–389.
McGee, R. W. (2003). The philosophy of taxation and public finance.
Berlin: Springer.
McLaren, D. (2004). Global stakeholders: Corporate accountability and
investor engagement. Corporate Governance: An International
Review, 12(2), 191–201.
Miceli, M. P., Near, J. P., & Dworkin, T. M. (2013). Whistle-blowing
in organizations. Hove: Psychology Press.
Mishan, E. J., & Quah, E. (2007). Cost-benefit analysis. Abington:
Routledge.
Montgomery, D. C., & Runger, G. C. (2010). Applied statistics and
probability for engineers. Hoboken: Wiley.
Mulki, J. P., Jaramillo, J. F., & Locander, W. B. (2009). Critical role of
leadership on ethical climate and salesperson behaviors. Journal
of Business Ethics, 86(2), 125–141.
Nas, T. F. (2016). Cost-benefit analysis: Theory and application. Lanham: Lexington Books.
Ostrom, E. (1998). A behavioral approach to the rational choice theory
of collective action: Presidential address, American Political
Science Association, 1997. American Political Science Review,
92(01), 1–22.
Palanski, M. E., Kahai, S. S., & Yammarino, F. J. (2011). Team virtues
and performance: An examination of transparency, behavioral
integrity, and trust. Journal of Business Ethics, 99(2), 201–216.
Peace, A. G., Galletta, D. F., & Thong, J. Y. (2003). Software piracy in
the workplace: A model and empirical test. Journal of Management Information Systems, 20(1), 153–177.
Peterson, D. K. (2002). Deviant workplace behavior and the organization’s ethical climate. Journal of Business and Psychology,
17(1), 47–61.
Picard, P. (1996). Auditing claims in the insurance market with fraud:
The credibility issue. Journal of Public Economics, 63(1), 27–56.
Podsakoff, P. M., Bommer, W. H., Podsakoff, N. P., & MacKenzie, S.
B. (2006). Relationships between leader reward and punishment
behavior and subordinate attitudes, perceptions, and behaviors:
A meta-analytic review of existing and new research. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 99(2), 113–142.
Podsakoff, P. M., MacKenzie, S. B., Lee, J. Y., & Podsakoff, N. P.
(2003). Common method biases in behavioral research: A critical
review of the literature and recommended remedies. Journal of
Applied Psychology, 88(5), 879.
Podsakoff, P. M., & Organ, D. W. (1986). Self-reports in organizational research: Problems and prospects. Journal of Management,
12(4), 531–544.
Richman, W. L., Kiesler, S., Weisband, S., & Drasgow, F. (1999). A
meta-analytic study of social desirability distortion in computeradministered questionnaires, traditional questionnaires, and interviews. Journal of Applied Psychology, 84(5), 754.
Riketta, M., & Landerer, A. (2002). Organizational commitment,
accountability, and work behavior: A correlational study. Social
Behavior and Personality: an international journal, 30(7),
653–660.
13
L.-M. Tseng
Robertson, K., McNeill, L., Green, J., & Roberts, C. (2012). Illegal
downloading, ethical concern, and illegal behavior. Journal of
Business Ethics, 108(2), 215–227.
Román, S., & Luis Munuera, J. (2005). Determinants and consequences
of ethical behaviour: an empirical study of salespeople. European
Journal of Marketing, 39(5/6), 473–495.
Rothwell, G. R., & Baldwin, J. N. (2007). Ethical climate theory,
whistle-blowing, and the code of silence in police agencies in
the state of Georgia. Journal of Business Ethics, 70(4), 341–361.
Schnackenberg, A. K., & Tomlinson, E. C. (2014). Organizational
transparency a new perspective on managing trust in organization-stakeholder relationships. Journal of Management,
0149206314525202.
Schwab, D. P. (2013). Research methods for organizational studies.
Hove: Psychology Press.
Schwepker, C. H., Ferrell, O. C., & Ingram, T. N. (1997). The influence of ethical climate and ethical conflict on role stress in the
sales force. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 25(2),
99–108.
Shafer, W. E. (2015). Ethical climate, social responsibility, and earnings management. Journal of Business Ethics, 126(1), 43–60.
Sheeran, P., & Abraham, C. (2003). Mediator of moderators: Temporal
stability of intention and the intention-behavior relation. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, 29(2), 205–215.
Shin, Y. (2012). CEO ethical leadership, ethical climate, climate
strength, and collective organizational citizenship behavior.
Journal of Business Ethics, 108(3), 299–312.
Singhapakdi, A., Sirgy, M. J., Lee, D. L., & Vitell, J. S. (2010). The
effects of ethics institutionalization on marketing managers: the
mediating role of implicit institutionalization and the moderating
role of socialization. Journal of Macro Marketing, 30(1), 77–92.
Singhapakdi, A., & Vitell, S. J. (2007). Institutionalization of ethics
and its consequences: A survey of marketing professionals. Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science, 35(2), 284–294.
Singhapakdi, A., Vitell, S. J., & Kraft, K. L. (1996). Moral intensity
and ethical decision-making of marketing professionals. Journal
of Business Research, 36(3), 245–255.
Singhapakdi, A., Vitell, S. J., Lee, D. J., Nisius, A. M., & Grace, B. Y.
(2013). The influence of love of money and religiosity on ethical decision-making in marketing. Journal of Business Ethics,
114(1), 183–191.
Staubus, G. J. (2005). Ethics failures in corporate financial reporting.
Journal of Business Ethics, 57(1), 5–15.
Steinbauer, R., Renn, R. W., Taylor, R. R., & Njoroge, P. K. (2014).
Ethical leadership and followers’ moral judgment: The role of
followers’ perceived accountability and self-leadership. Journal
of Business Ethics, 120(3), 381–392.
Suzumura, K. (2009). Rational choice, collective decisions, and social
welfare. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
13
Tenbrunsel, A. E., & Messick, D. M. (2004). Ethical fading: The role
of self-deception in unethical behavior. Social Justice Research,
17(2), 223–236.
Tetlock, P. E. (1985). Accountability: The neglected social context
of judgment and choice. Research in organizational behavior,
7(1), 297–332.
Tversky, A., & Kahneman, D. (1986). Rational choice and the framing
of decisions. Journal of business, 59(4), S251–S278.
Vance, A., Lowry, P. B., & Eggett, D. (2013). Using accountability to
reduce access policy violations in information systems. Journal
of Management Information Systems, 29(4), 263–290.
Vitell, S. J., & Hunt, S. D. (2015). The general theory of marketing
ethics: the consumer ethics and intentions issues. In A. Nill (Ed.),
Handbook on ethics and marketing (pp. 15–37). Cheltenham:
Edward Elgar.
Vitell, S. J., Keith, M., & Mathur, M. (2011). Antecedents to the justification of norm violating behavior among business practitioners.
Journal of Business Ethics, 101(1), 163–173.
Vitell, S. J., & Singhapakdi, A. (2008). The role of ethics institutionalization in influencing organizational commitment, job satisfaction, and esprit de corps. Journal of Business Ethics, 81(2),
343–353.
Vitell, S. J., Singhapakdi, A., & Nishihara, C. M. (2015). The influence of ethics institutionalization on ethical decision-making in
marketing. In A. Nill (Ed.), Handbook on ethics and marketing
(pp. 61–88). Cheltenham: Edward Elgar.
Wallace, J. C., Johnson, P. D., Mathe, K., & Paul, J. (2011). Structural
and psychological empowerment climates, performance, and the
moderating role of shared felt accountability: A managerial perspective. Journal of Applied Psychology, 96(4), 840.
Webb, T. L., & Sheeran, P. (2006). Does changing behavioral intentions
engender behavior change? A meta-analysis of the experimental
evidence. Psychological Bulletin, 132(2), 249.
Whittington, D., & MacRae, D. (1986). The issue of standing in costbenefit analysis. Journal of Policy Analysis and Management,
5(4), 665–682.
Wimbush, J. C., Shepard, J. M., & Markham, S. E. (1997). An empirical examination of the relationship between ethical climate and
ethical behavior from multiple levels of analysis. Journal of Business Ethics, 16(16), 1705–1716.
Wright, K. B. (2005). Researching Internet‐based populations: Advantages and disadvantages of online survey research, online questionnaire authoring software packages, and web survey services.
Journal of Computer Mediated Communication, 10(3), 23–45.
Zadek, S., Evans, R., & Pruzan, P. (2013). Building corporate accountability: Emerging practice in social and ethical accounting and
auditing. Abington: Routledge.
Zey, M. (1997). Rational choice theory and organizational theory: A
critique. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publications.
Документ
Категория
Без категории
Просмотров
72
Размер файла
789 Кб
Теги
017, s10551, 3723
1/--страниц
Пожаловаться на содержимое документа