Values and Ethical Decisions at Work: An Aristotelian Study of Greek Managers

Tzoanou, Marilena (2013) Values and Ethical Decisions at Work: An Aristotelian Study of Greek Managers. Doctoral thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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This thesis looks at how a sample of forty-two Greek managers perceive ethical issues, express values and make ethical decisions at work, with the purpose of exploring a concern about managerial ethical standards in Greece. The context of this study is the problem of extensive corruption in Greek society, and there is concern that this affects managerial behaviour and business conduct.

The conceptual and empirical frameworks used in this study are based on Aristotle‟s virtue ethics, which views moral character as the foundation for ethical action, and argues that developing a virtuous character allows people to do „the right thing‟ under any particular circumstances. From this perspective, managers as key organisational role models and decision-makers, have a moral responsibility to prioritise the ethical aspects of their work and improve their moral character through developing virtuous habits.

The research was developed within an anti-positivist approach and employed the use of in-depth interviews with Greek managers in the private sector, whilst adopting an Aristotelian particularist perspective focused on understanding the interviewees‟ specific contexts. The choice of methods allowed for rich descriptions and insightful accounts of the respondents‟ perceptions, thoughts and experiences of ethics at work.

The research findings confirmed the initial inclination about ethical business conduct in Greece. Overall many of the participants maintained an ethical approach, highlighting the importance of ethical business in general; however, when asked to consider specific circumstances they often overlooked the ethical dimension. The contradictions and inconsistencies in the participants‟ views suggests that their moral reasoning was not attuned to Aristotle‟s notion of moral virtue.

This study provides a significant contribution to the limited body of knowledge of Greek business ethics by offering an insight into a sample of Greek managers‟ ethical decision-making. It shows that Aristotle‟s ethical method can assist in thinking about new ways to explore business ethics in Greece. In the light of the Greek national crisis and fast-changing context, the findings of this study instil a sense of urgency to enhance understanding of managerial ethical behaviour in Greek business.

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