U05; It starts with leaders, but ends with self!

Leaders have critical responsibilities within organizations. Some key roles

they play will directly determine the success or failure of organizational goals. Creating an ethical climate is one of those roles that leaders must not take lightly. As leaders, ethical decision-making waivers, so will the climate. Organizations do well in identifying their values and beliefs as this sets the foundation for their organizational culture. Ethical climate will suffer when leaders choose to participate in, condone, and allow for unethical behavior as the norm. Eventually, the organizational climate will fall as a whole. Whereas organizational climate is a snapshot of organizational culture, the ethical climate is a piece of organizational climate (Penn State, 2018).


Followers also have a responsibility in the ethical climate of an organization as personal beliefs and values play a role in the makeup of these climates. By and large, the U.S. Army has a high set of ethical standards that are based on a set of traditional values, which are loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage. This allows for a solid ethical organizational culture foundation, which is needed to support positive organizational and ethical climates. However, this foundation still requires both leaders and individuals to maintain a personal level of accountability. The headlines below are some example where both leaders and individuals blatantly disregarded any established set of ethical standards and were using a little to no standard of moral reasoning;

1. “Easy money made selling Army weapons stolen by US soldiers”(Hall, 2017)

2. “Man gets 2 years for selling millions in stolen military equipment” (KXXV, 2013)

3. “Extramarital affair, misuse of resources cost Army general his post” (Brook, 2016)


According to Victor and Cullen (1987), ethical work climate are defined as collective employee perceptions of ethical events, ethical practices, and ethical procedures, which depend on two dimensions: the ethical criteria used for organizational decision making, and the loci of analysis used as a referent in the ethical decision-making process (Arnaud, 2010). These particular headlines help identify that two dimensions of Arnaud’s (2010) theory can be seen in that their moral motivation was for personal gain and moral character was questionable. We can take this a step further and conclude that these leaders and individuals behavior definitely impacted their organizations ethical and organizational climate. Implementing values and beliefs will help leaders and individuals have a starting point of what behavior is condoned and supported. Understanding that this foundation is only a starting point and must be followed by other deliberate action by both leaders and individuals will continue to support strong ethical and positive organizational climates.


Arnaud, A. (2010). Conceptualizing and measuring ethical work climate: Development and validation of the ethical climate index. Business & Society, 49(2), 345-358.

Brook, T. V. (2016). Extramarital affair, misuse of resources cost Army general his post. Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2016/07/27/extramarital-affair-misuse-resources-cost-rising-army-general-his-post/87572656

Hall, K. M. (2017). ‘Easy money’ made selling Army weapons stolen by US soldiers. Retrieved from https://www.armytimes.com/news/2017/08/30/federal-trial-details-black-market-for-military-equipment

Man gets 2 years for selling millions in stolen military equipment. (2013). Retrieved from http://www.kxxv.com/story/22006509/man-sentenced-to-2-years-for-selling-stolen-military-equipment

PSY 533 (2018). Ethical Climate. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1896721/pages/l13-ethical-climate-defined?module_item_id=23792071

One Comment

  1. Julie Polanski April 22, 2018 at 4:47 PM #

    Hi Vidar,

    This was a very interesting post! Thank you for sharing! In looking at this, one thing that immediately came to mind is how a country’s army can really represent its culture. For starters, the United States is a country that does not currently require military service, whereas others do. Additionally, in thinking of the six dimensions culture study by Hofstede and Hofstede, the United States is a culture that shows strong desires for equally distributed power and individualism, where people can feel independent (Hofstede & Hofstede, 2018). Yet, the army is very rank focused, and can have a somewhat collectivist nature to it. People can be promoted based on tenure instead of performance at times. Additionally, the army has to deal with crisis in a way most companies never dream of. Crisis is conflict and the need for expediency (PSY 533, L10, 2018). Conflict is also something that brings up values and can pit them against each other for dominance in a decision making process (PSY 533, L10, 2018). In many cases, that will show the true test for the ethical climate. Arnaud wrote that collective moral character can be having the self-control to commit to and implement a planned course of action all the way through (Arnaud, 2010). The army can presents more opportunities for self-control, or the lack thereof, then many corporate environments.

    Again, such an interesting read! The more I think about it, the more perspectives I come up with!

    Arnaud, A. (2010). Conceptualizing and measuring ethical work climate: Development and validation of the ethical climate index. Business & Society, 49(2), 345-358.

    Hofstede, G., & Hofstede, G. (2018). 6-D Model of National Culture. Retrieved from http://geerthofstede.com/culture-geert-hofstede-gert-jan-hofstede/6d-model-of-national-culture/

    PSU (2018). Lesson 10: Crises. PSY 533 Ethics and leadership. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1896721/pages/l10-introduction?module_item_id=23792035

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