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Ethical Issues of Managers’ Moral Reasoning


James weber, in “Adapting Kohlberg to enhance the assessment of managers’ moral reasoning,” analyses how Moral Judgment Interview and Standard Issue Scoring method can be adopted by managers in modern organizations. To identify the moral reasoning of managers, the author focused on four points concerning the adaptation process. However, the theories provided in this journal seem simple in theory, but applying them in normal activities of an organization may be challenging. In addition, there are many changes in the organizational environment; and the theories are somehow inapplicable.

Background Information

This paper was written to identify moral and ethical issues which managers face in their daily operations, especially when solving conflicts. Little research has been done concerning the process which managers use to reason when resolving conflicts. At the workplace, managers encounter conflict situations concerning morality and ethics. Therefore, understanding the moral reasoning of managers will improve the knowledge about the influence that managers have on decision making when there are issues concerning ethical dilemmas (Weber, p. 293).


Lack of better methods in assessing how managers make decisions when they encounter ethical dilemmas is a major drawback in understanding the reasoning ability of managers. Kohlberg developed ‘The Measurement of Moral Judgment model’ to understand how managers reason about ethical and moral issues in organizations. Previously, Kohlberg and others had developed the ‘Moral Judgment Interview’ and ‘Standard Issue Scoring’ models to measure the reasoning processes of individuals (Weber, p 294).

The model developed by Kohlberg had to be modified in this research, so as to improve the understanding of how managers reason when they encounter ethical and moral problems. The model had to be adjusted because initially it had been developed to assess how moral reasoning of an individual develops from childhood to adulthood. Therefore, the model contains aspects which are not necessary in this research, and may be a hindrance when assessing the process of making moral decisions by managers. There are differences in the judgments made by individuals about the morality of actions taken by managers. According to Kohlberg, there are three stages of moral development: pre-conventional, conventional and post-conventional (p. 295).

In the Moral Judgment Interview, all issues were presented with conflict situations. After identifying the dilemmas, the subjects were asked questions to obtain information about their perception of ethics and morality. The interviews were conducted to elicit information from the subjects about their own perception of moral reasoning; assumptions concerning right and wrong; and how the subjects used the principles and suppositions in justifying their moral decisions (Weber, p. 297).

In conducting the study, a sample of 37 managers was identified. The managers were separated into two groups. The demographic characteristics of the managers were identical. That is, a large number of the managers were men aged 40 years, and with 20 years of experience at work. A large number of the managers worked in manufacturing industry while the rest worked in financial services organizations. A large number of the managers worked in organizations with more than 1,000 employees. The overall observation was that the management and organizational aspects had no significant influence on the Kohlberg tests. The Kohlberg model had a positive influence on the moral reasoning of managers (Weber, p. 308).


This article has achieved its goal by assessing the moral and ethical reasoning of managers when making decisions within an organization. The methodology employed in the article provides an accurate measurement of the theories identified. The findings and conclusion provide that reasoning ability of managers affects the ethical and moral aspects in decision making process. However, there is a possibility of bias by the respondents, and this may have affected the response provided by the managers. Managers may provide positive information about their organizations so as to give a good picture about their performance even when it is contrary to reality. On the other hand, the measures of reasoning ability may not be accurate in assessing the abilities of managers in decision making. Identifying the ethical and moral issues concerning managers’ ability to make organizational decisions is important. With the increase in awareness about corporate social responsibility in organizations, this research will be of great importance to organizations. Managers will be able to identify moral and ethical issues that may affect the decisions they make, and this will improve the relationship of the managers with the internal and external environments. Nevertheless, the assumptions that managers have identical experiences at work are not convincing. Organizations are unique, and they have unique experiences. Therefore, generalization of managers’ reasoning ability when making decisions is not accurate. Issues of ethics and morality are qualitative and may not be possible to conclude with certainty.

Direct Comment

In this article, the author provides a framework of explaining how decision making is affected by the moral and ethical reasoning of the managers. This study is important especially in the modern work environment where ethics and morality are major aspects affecting managerial activities.

Work Cited

Weber, James. “Adapting Kohlberg to Enhance the Assessment of Managers’ Moral Reasoning.” Business Ethics Quarterly 1. 3 (1991): 293-319.

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"Ethical Issues of Managers’ Moral Reasoning." ApeGrade, 10 Apr. 2022, apegrade.com/ethical-issues-of-managers-moral-reasoning/.

1. ApeGrade. "Ethical Issues of Managers’ Moral Reasoning." April 10, 2022. https://apegrade.com/ethical-issues-of-managers-moral-reasoning/.


ApeGrade. "Ethical Issues of Managers’ Moral Reasoning." April 10, 2022. https://apegrade.com/ethical-issues-of-managers-moral-reasoning/.


ApeGrade. 2022. "Ethical Issues of Managers’ Moral Reasoning." April 10, 2022. https://apegrade.com/ethical-issues-of-managers-moral-reasoning/.


ApeGrade. (2022) 'Ethical Issues of Managers’ Moral Reasoning'. 10 April.

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