Date of Award

Spring 5-2018

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Business Administration (DBA)

First Advisor

Yvette P. Lopez, PhD

Second Advisor

Grace Lemmon, PhD

Third Advisor

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.