When faced with a morally intense situation, determining what the right thing to do is easy. Instead, ultimately doing the right thing is a major source of ethical dilemmas for business leaders. This is due to the often-conflicting business interest against the individual s personal values. It therefore follows that a person s courage should play a huge role in assisting business leaders to remain true to their convictions. As such, this study set out to investigate the relationship between an individual s levels of courage and their personal moral philosophy when placed in a morally intense situation.
Using a quasi-experimental approach, this study created a morally intense situation by manipulating Jones (1991) six dimensions of moral intensity. Research participants were requested to experimentally immerse themselves in the case study and to take decisions on various situations posed to them. All participants were then measured on personal levels of courage using Woodard-Pury s (2007) courage scale; and on their personal moral philosophies using Forsyth s (1980) Ethics Positioning Questionnaire (EPQ). The results were statistically analysed to determine if there is a relationship between business leaders levels of courage and their moral philosophies; and the influence that these have when they were placed in a morally intense situation. The participants of this study were 118 first year Masters of Business Administration (MBA) students who occupy on average middle-manager positions within large international corporates in South Africa.
The study found that when faced with ethical dilemmas in the workplace; as presented through the morally intense case study; those business leaders with a relative moral philosophy take decisions in line with their personal moral philosophies. In addition, the study proved that though there is no relationship between courage and personal moral philosophy in a morally intense situation; for those with a relative ideology; the willingness to act might have a moderation effect when an individual is placed in a morally intense situation. This means that the willingness component of courage accounts for some level of the ultimate decision taken. This is particularly positive for business as it indicates that though business leaders do not need to be courageous to do what they believe is right, they have to be willing to act righteously in order for the probability of taking the right action to increase. The study found this to be true for situations with high levels of moral intensity.
Mini Dissertation (MBA)--University of Pretoria, 2015.