Groves, K., Vance, C., & Paik, Y. (2008), “Linking linear/nonlinear thinking style balance and managerial ethical decision-making.” Journal of Business Ethics, Vol. 80(2): 305-325.
Data from 200 managers across multiple organizations and industries demonstrated that managers predominantly adopt a utilitarian perspective when forming ethical intent across a series of business ethics vignettes, according to a new study co-authored by Pepperdine professor Kevin Groves, an assistant professor of Organizational Theory and Management, and published in the Journal of Business Ethics.
Consistent with expectations, managers utilizing a balanced linear/nonlinear thinking style provided greater ethical decisions across three of five vignettes compared to managers with a predominantly linear or nonlinear thinking style. Contrary to expectations, linear thinking style was not associated with utilitarian ethical theories while balanced thinking style was negatively related to act utilitarian theories, suggesting that balanced thinkers may produce greater ethical decisions by considering a wider range of alternatives and ruling out those that are justified solely on the basis of their outcomes.
Implications are discussed for future research and practice related to management education and development, and ethical decision-making theory.