The influence of cognitive moral development and leader regulatory focus on employee ethical decision making and behavior
Date of Award
Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)
Yvette P. Lopez, PhD
Grace Lemmon, PhD
Charles Naquin, PhD
Recent events in business, private, and public settings suggests that people continue to struggle with ethical issues. This study drew on theories of cognitive moral development and leader regulatory focus to increase our understanding of the forces that shape ethical perceptions, decision making, and behavior. I hypothesized that employee cognitive moral development is negatively related to the approval of questionable/unethical behavior. Results indicate employees exhibiting lower levels of cognitive moral development were more accepting of unethical or questionable moral behavior. I also hypothesized that leader regulatory focus would moderate the negative relationship between employee cognitive moral behavior and tolerance for questionable/unethical behavior such that the relationship would be stronger for employees with a prevention focused leader regulation and weaker for a promotion focused leader regulation. Findings indicated that higher promotion focus (Low Prevention Focus) leader regulation strengthened the relationship between employee cognitive moral development and employee tolerance of unethical behavior. This is important in hopes of encouraging leaders to gain a better understanding of how their role impacts the ethical behaviors of their employees.
Hendrix, Brandon, "The influence of cognitive moral development and leader regulatory focus on employee ethical decision making and behavior" (2018). College of Business Theses and Dissertations. 5.