An evaluation of the understanding and application of business ethics among Kenya's corporate executives
Simiyu, Isaac Wanasika
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The institutionalisation of business ethics within corporate decisionmaking processes is an important task for organisations if they are to effectively counteract the increasingly frequent occurrence of blatantly unethical and often illegal behaviour within large respectable organisations. This project explored the understanding and application of business ethics among corporate executives in decision-making processes within Kenya. Three variables are emphasised: understanding, application and perception. The study was aimed at evaluating the understanding and application of business ethics among Kenya's corporate executives. Consequently, a number of objectives were laid out as follows: • To determine the level of understanding of business ethics among corporate decision-makers. • To assess the application of the concept of business ethics among corporate executives. • To highlight the importance of ethics as a dimension of modern business practice in Kenya. Primary data was obtained through both open-ended and closedended questionnaires from a sample of 60 corporate executives based in Nairobi. The data was analysed through tables, mean scores, indices, percentages and cross-tabulations. The results revealed that executives in large manufacturing firms understand the concept of business ethics. Although the concept of business ethics is understood, it was found that few companies apply ethical principles in decision-making processes and few have formal ethical policies within their organisations. Female managers were found to be less tolerant of unethical behaviour than their male counterparts. Regarding the final objective, individual managers were prone to be more unethical when faced with an ethical dilemma of a personal nature. Majority of the corporate executives favoured the utilitarian school of business ethics due to ease of application and justification at the work-place. The most critical aspect affecting unethical behaviour in business today is corruption. Majority of respondents considered corruption as a national moral crisis although few were able to suggest practical remedies. A number of recommendations on how to reduce the level of corruption in large companies are suggested in chapter five of the report.