Leadership Stress Affecting Ethical Decision Making

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Ethical Decision Making in Organizations: The Role of Leadership Stress

Summary of Journal

This journal tested the effects of leadership stress towards ethical decision making in organizations. This research assessed on the identification of ethical problems and ethical behaviours. Two hypotheses have been developed in this research and were tested through the use of survey and participants are from 3 sites of Swedish multinational civil engineering company. The survey can be divided into four parts, which measured the recognition of ethical problems, perceived undesired stressful conditions, effects of stress, and some personal data.

The study suggested that stressful situations would impair leader’s ability to recognize ethical dilemmas. Moreover, it would lead to more frequent unethical acting. In addition, stressful situations tend to bring larger impact on the ethical behaviour especially when there are punishment and lack of rewards in the organization. However, stress does not necessarily lead to poorer management decisions where some leaders must be able to work under constant stress in their professional capacity. Thus, stress is reducing our concentration on a current task and ability to gather information, which then affects our ability to analyze using the working memory. Organization should look into the seriousness of stressful situation faces among employees because the stressors will influence managerial work and its implications for ethical behaviour. It is important to have ethical decision making among organization leaders to work along with their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR).

Definition of concept

Ethical decision making related to moral issues. According to Jones (1991, p.367), a moral issue is concerned when actions of individual may bring harm or benefit towards others. An ethical decision can be defined as ‘a decision that is both legally and morally acceptable to the larger community whereas an unethical decision may be regarded as either illegal or morally unacceptable to the larger community’ (Jones, 1992, p.367). On the other hand, Trevino et al (2006, p.952) defined behavioural ethics as ‘individual conduct base on generally acknowledged moral standards of behaviour’.

According to Jones (1991), a decision maker must first identify a moral problem, and then conduct a moral decision, weight more on moral issues and finally act according to their moral judgment. In Jones’ model, organization or external factors consists of everything beyond the moral issue and the ethical decision making process. It includes the value of the organization and its managers, personality, gender, career stage and geo-cultural differences. In addition, Chia and Lim (2000) also supported Jones’ model that problems involving high moral intensity usually draw out complicated moral reasoning and cause a moral agent to involve in ethical behaviours.

Stress can affect ethical decision making of leaders in different ways. It can be defined as ‘a series of incidents with the existence of a demand that is related and challenging on an individual’s resources, and the resulted reaction normally bring impact to the individual’s welfare’ (Ellis, 2006, p.576). Besides, stress also involves the connection between external stressors and the individual’s ability to deal with the psychological and physiological consequences causing by these stressors (Lazarus, 1993). Some of the important factors causing stress in the organization are powerless, punishment, work overload and even a lack of feedback. Further than hindering with job performance and satisfaction, continual or excessive leadership stress in an organization can also lead to physical and emotional health problems of decision makers. Some of the signs and symptoms of stress would be feeling anxious or depressed, loss of interest in work, social withdrawal, exhaustion, problems sleeping and trouble in concentration.

Types of Research Conducted...
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