This chapter is employed for the critical assessment of the research framework, hypotheses and the research method in the chosen published studies in related to this study. Any further findings and additional information which is deemed usable will be incorporated throughout the study itself. All the elements of possible dependent variable and independent variable will be elaborated thoroughly in this literature review with a close focus upon each and every element. This chapter focuses on speculation about factors that would affect ethical decision making among students’ leaders.
Those factors are; fairness, individual characteristics, values, and intention. The literature review for dependent variable will be discussed in 2.1 subsection 2.1.1 while the independent variables shown in 2.2 subsection of 2.2.1, 2.2.2, 2.2.3, and 2.2.4 and a literature evaluation on 2.3.
2.1 Dependent Variable
2.1.1 Ethical Decision Making
T.M. Jones has defined ethical decision as a decision that is both legally and morally acceptable to the larger community (1991, p. 387). This definition of absolute standards to test social norm, based on the standards of the cultural, organizational, or community. It still raises questions that are still used when working in the overlapping groups. Meanwhile, Tenbruensel and Smith-Crowe (2008) present a distinction between moral decision making and amoral decision making and within each class of decisions; one can make ethical decision or unethical decision. Means, it is very hard to clearly define ethical decision making. Many definitions may exist, however most of it depend on using some standard of ethical behaviour from which to judge the individual’s behaviour. Any standard used is very subjective and cultural in nature as well as subject to rigorous debate.
Ethical decision making has different meanings; depends on the situation and general perception of the group of people affected by the decision made. However, it could be simplified as ‘making or doing a right choice by using a moral judgement’. In 1996, Ethics Resource Center developed a simple acronym ethics filters to be used in decision making which is PLUS. The acronym stands for Policies, Legal, Universal, and self. It provides a way to filter decisions and act as a guide through basic ethical and moral tests. In another example of applied ground rules, nurses have long since been ethically challenged in their profession. Noureddine, S. (2000) says, when faced with an ethical dilemma, they use formula ethics, where ethical principles are applied in a particular case to determine what one ought to do. Decisions will need to be reassessed and revised on personal basis or company’s ethical ground rules. However, urgency is often being a crucial factor in such decision. This often limits the information about the core of the problem, limiting alternative solutions. The amount of options or alternatives is especially important when using ethical based filters.
There is an inherent problem in attempting to define ethical decision-making or moral behaviour (Scholl, 2008). While the concept of ethics provides a nice category of inquiry, it isolates the concepts associated with what we call ethics from other models of decision-making and motivation. Basically, there is a lack of study specifically on ethical decision making. It is actually different to the studies conducted to investigate ethical behaviour as well as the process in decision making. The matter of moral and ethical decision-making confronts us everyday in our professions. Ethics is in the forefront of everyone mind and hopefully, this will spur change and a more ethically aware society (Houston Chronicle 2002). A lot of ethical dilemmas come forth when one seeks to apply ethics to any given decision. For instance, when a company is forced to make reductions in workforce. The morality of saving the company as a whole verses the stakeholders who will lose their jobs is a continuing issue in today’s economy.
For this research, I define ethical decision making by adapting a definition of ethical behaviour developed by Jones (1991): an ethical decision is one that is morally acceptable to the larger community. Prior research in ethical decision making has begun to identify a number of important factors that influence ethical behaviour. This work includes both theoretical models of ethical decision making (e.g., Lewicki, 1983; Trevino, 1986) and empirical studies of ethical behaviour (see Bazerman and Banaji, 2004; Ford and Richardson, 1994; Loe et al., 2000 for reviews). This work has identified a number of individual factors (Lewicki and Robinson, 1998; Trevino and Youngblood, 1990), psychological factors (Baron, 1997; Bazerman et al., 2002; Robben et al, 1990; Schweitzer and Hsee, 2002; Steinel and DeDreu, 2004), and organizational factors (Schminke, 2001; Schweitzer, Ordonez, and Douma, 2004) that influence ethical behaviour.
This study and research will further investigate on a few factors that seems could influence and affect a person in doing an ethical decision. In this scope of study, I want to test on how university students; in the context of students’ leaders view the importance of these factors in doing an ethical decision. Most of the previous researches are only focusing on the factors that influence a person in ethical decision making, without testing to what extent the importance and significance of those factors in a person’s view in doing an ethical decision. Hence, the study will try to test on how really imporatant those factors; with a reference from prior researches to a person in order to validate their decision as an ethical one.
2.2 Independent Variables
Fairness is one of the factors identified that could affects and influences a decision making. It is seen as one of the components to measure the decision made whether it is can be widely accepted or regarded as an ethical one. There are as many subjective definitions of what ‘fair’ means as there are different people. However, most of the people the concept of fairness are just the same as ‘equality’. Commonly, the simple definition of ‘fair’ as an adjective is to be impartial, unbiased, or play by the rules accepted by everyone. According to Richard D. Lavoie (2007), the juggling of ‘fairness’ and ‘equality’ is a continuing mystery to people, as some of us realize that these two concepts are not synonymous. In fact, it often the opposites.
In fact, the definition of fairness has little to do with treating people the same way. The true definition of fairness means that everyone has what he or she needs or at least, seems appropriate. Hence, it is really important in justify this in making a decision especially at the larger group of affected by the decision. Violation of community standards of fairness (e.g., by taking advantage of an in crease in market power) lead to greater intentions to behave unethically than explanations that are consistent with community standards of fairness (e.g., by passing along a price increase) (Schweitzer and Gibson, 2008). Based on that, perceptions of justifiability mediate the relationship and individuals derive significant psychological benefits such as greater satisfaction and happiness, and reduced anger from engaging in unethical behaviour following perceived violations of fairness. Hence, it shows that there significant relationship between fairness in making a decision.
When individuals perceive outcomes to be fair, they experience satisfaction (Hegtvedt and Killian, 1999; Ordonez et al., 2000) and are likely to be supportive of both the outcome and the parties involved (Barry and Oliver, 1996). However, when individuals perceive outcomes to violate fairness, they are likely to experience anger (Allred, 1999; Bies, 1987; Bies et al., 1997; Homans, 1974) and retaliate (Folger, 1993). Reactions to perceived violations of fairness include rejecting valuable offers (Pillutla and Murnighan, 1996), stealing, and vandalism (Greenberg, 1990, 1993; Skarlicki and Folger, 1997).
The judgments of fairness are guided by a number of psychological principles (Kahneman et al., 1986a). Kahneman et al. (1986b, p. 299) identify ”systematic implicit rules” that guide individuals to categorize actions as either fair or unfair and they label these rules as community standards of fairness. Community here is defined broadly, as including people variously in the roles of employees, tenants, and customers. It is being noted that different communities may make different types of decisions, however they are likely to make similar judgement about fairness. Hence, it is possible to refer and use this rules for further investigation in this study.
In the previous studies on the impact of fairness towards making an ethical decision, it explore the mechanics and consequences of individual judgement of fairness on ethical decision making as well as investigating reactions towards the outcomes of it. Schweitzer and Gibson (2008) explore on both psychological and emotions reactions and subsequent intentions to behave unethically. While, this study will try to investigate and explore on to what extent the concept of fairness is accepted and weighted by university students especially students’ leaders as one of the components in making a decision which is ethically acceptable by themselves and others.
Since the issue and discussion of ethics is very subjective and indiffirence, it comes naturally when constrasting ideological justifications lead to differences in perceived fairness. There are number of studies have linked explanations with perceptions of fairness. Prior organizational justice research has examined individuals’ perceptions of fairness in a variety of organizational processes, including recruitment and selection procedures (Ployhart et al., 1999), job rejection letters (Gilliland et al., 2001), layoff decisions (Brockner et al., 1990) and reductions of employee pay (Greenberg, 1990). However, most of this research is limited in that it examines only the presence or absence of some quantity of information and does not compare various types of information (Ployhart et al., 1999). Consequently, there are limitations on further understanding about individual’s difference on perceptions of fairness especially the impotance and impacts of it on ethical behaviour. Therefore, there is a need on this study to determine and explore about the differences between people regarding fairness in their ethical behaviours.
2.2.2 Individual Characteristics
Individual characteristics also being identified as one of the factors that could influence a person in making a decision and validating it as an ethical; acceptable by others or not. For this research, individual characteristics is including the differences of gender, age, attitudes, and a few others. The individual characteristics that I mention for the uses for this study is including both the characteristics and differences of the respondents and the group of people affected or involved directly to the respondents’ decisions. Means, it includes both demographic and personality variables, their (refers to both; respondents and affected groups) direct influence on beliefs and judgments, and their influence on the relationships between beliefs, judgments, and moral intent.
There is a need for the study to examine demographic and personality styles of individuals that indicate that they are more or less likely to judge a behaviour as being immoral (Cappel and Windsor, 1998; Gattiker and Kelley, 1999; Kreie and Cronan, 1998; Peterson, 2002) as well as on the process of ethical decision making to find beliefs and attitudes that lead to unethical behaviour (Randall, 1989). It is because, the personality and behaviour are likely to affect the judgement of a person and on how he or she make a decision. Loch and Conger (1996), and Trevino (1986) believe that individual characteristics appear to affect not only beliefs and attitudes toward questionable behaviour, but also the decision making process itself.
Kohlberg’s (1969) model of cognitive moral development has addresses how the cognitive processes of ethical decision making become more complex as individuals develop and grow. Kohlberg’s (1969) model of cognitive moral development has been the theoretical foundation for many theories of ethical decision-making (Rest et al., 1986; Trevino, 1986). It addresses how the cognitive processes of ethical decision-making become more sophisticated as individuals develop. Trevino (1986) used the model to develop a theory of ethical decision making that focuses on the characteristics of the individual making the decision. Her decision making model links moral judgment to moral action and proposes that individual characteristics influence links throughout the process of decision making rather than merely judgments of whether the behaviour was acceptable and ethical behaviour. From the model, she identified five individual characteristics that affect the process of ethical decision making: moral reasoning level, education, ego strength, field dependence, and locus of control.