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Managing unethical behavior in organizations: The need for a behavioral business ethics approach

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 April 2016

David De Cremer*
Judge Business School, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK
Wim Vandekerckhove
University of Greenwich Business School, Greenwich, UK
Corresponding author:


Issues of morality and ethics have increasingly become more important in organizations and business settings. Traditionally, these issues of ethics and social responsibility in business settings have been discussed and commented on by prescriptive approaches that are grounded in philosophical traditions. Building on the idea that we need to develop a more comprehensive and complete understanding of the value that people assign to ethics and how it influences their actions and decisions, in the present article we discuss and review the importance and relevance of adopting also a descriptive approach that is grounded in the behavioral sciences (referred to as behavioral business ethics). This approach has the advantages to promote our insights into how people can show both good and bad behavior and why this is the case. Behavioral business ethics therefore represents an important research challenge for organizational researchers to pursue and engage more meaningfully with more prescriptive approaches.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press and Australian and New Zealand Academy of Management 2016 

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