In her research PhD thesis, Issa (2009) highlighted the strength of the relationship between ethical mindsets, spirituality, and aesthetics in the Australian Services Sector. Issa’s findings, further explored and triangulated by the data gathered through focus groups interviews, provide an exploration and identification of eight major components of these mindsets (i.e. aesthetic spirituality, religious spirituality, optimism, harmony and balance, personal truth, contentment, making a difference, and interconnectedness). These eight components recording high alphas, those ranged between 0.931 and 0.720, with their thirty-four dimensions recording high factor loading (high of 0.913 and low of 0.445).

Indeed, an understanding of the ethical mindsets, not only at the Australian level, but the global level might assist us in understanding how to steer the global economy in the right direction. This is especially as the latest literature provides us with pointers of the change in direction of businesses and leadership including the individuals’ moral engagement and how they are attracted to a specific business.

Miska et al., (2014) contend that business leaders are increasingly responsible for the societal and environmental impacts of their actions. Further Tsai et al., (2014) posit that many scholars have suggested the relationship between corporate social performance and its ability to attract a large number of high-quality job applicants, indicating that employees with strong social awareness help create a high-performance organisation. Thus, Tsai et al., (2014) put this assertion in the literature under empirical examination, and their findings complement previous literature by discussing how corporate social performance benefits business firms from a perspective of strengthened human resources and recruitment.

Moral engagement and disengagement might be another aspect to be considered here. Kish-Gephart et al., (2014) point out that self-interest has long been recognised as a powerful human motive. Yet much remains to be understood about the thinking behind self-interested pursuits. Through their research, Kish-Gephart et al., (2014) demonstrated that when personal gain incentives are relatively moderate, reminders of harm to others can reduce the likelihood that employees will morally disengage. Furthermore, when strong personal gain incentives are present in a situation, highly conscientious individuals are less apt than are their counterparts to engage in morally disengaged reasoning.

In a recent study on environmental leadership and consciousness development in Canada, Boiral et al., (2014) concluded that conversely, the small to medium enterprises (SME) that displayed less sustainable environmental management practices were all run by managers at conventional stages of development, analysing the reasons as to why the stages of post-conventional consciousness development of top managers seem to foster corporate greening in SMEs.

Thus, engaging in a conscious development, being morally engaged, being responsible and aware of the societal and environmental responsibilities of the business are issues of importance to the organisation and the individuals who are employed or are attracted to such workplaces. Therefore, a further understanding of the nature of the mindsets of those involved in the leading or the running of the day-to-day affairs of businesses that are increasingly responsible on issues that affect each and every one of us is of vital importance.

Indeed, building upon Issa’s (2009) research on ethical mindsets, and some further publications, Issa embarked on new research, in collaboration with other scholars, and with the help of Qualtrics Online©, collected fresh and new data from twelve countries (Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, UK and Scotland, USA, India, and Israel). Respondents were 2004 of which 1991 responses were eligible for analysis.

The preliminary analysis of the quantitative portion of this large set of data provided pointers to seven components of ethical mindsets: (1) Spirituality View and Practice, (2) Relationship, Contribution, Professionalism, Collaboration and Self-responsibility at the Workplace, (3) Truth Value at the Workplace, (4) Continuous Self-development towards Positive Attitude, (5) Balance and Harmony with Workmates and Supervisor, (6) Integrity at the Workplace, and (7) Compassion at the Workplace.

Looking at individual countries under research, it became evident that ‘Spirituality View and Practice’ was the first component of ethical mindsets for Australia, Canada, Ireland, Singapore, South Africa, UK and Scotland, USA, and Israel. As for India, Malaysia, and New Zealand, the first component was ‘Truth Value at the Workplace’, with Hong Kong the only country recording ‘Harmony and Balance at the Workplace’ as the first component. These findings will be further explored and triangulated through the analysis of the qualitative data that were also collected from the same respondents.

Additional data will be collected from other European countries, Russia, China, some more countries from Africa, and South America, which will allow for the development of a global understanding of ethical mindsets for future researchers. Thus, this is merely a work in progress. Further analysis and details will be provided in future articles, book chapters, and books.

Dr Theodora Issa Senior Lecturer School of Management (on Secondment), Curtin Business School email: theodora.issa@curtin.edu.au

References

Boiral, O., Baron, C., & Gunnlaugson, O. (2014). Environmental Leadership and Consciousness Development: A Case Study Among Canadian SMEs. Journal of Business Ethics, 123(3), 363-83.

Issa, T. (2009). Ethical mindsets, aesthetics and spirituality: A mixed-methods approach analysis of the Australian services sector. (PhD), School of Management, Curtin Business School: 361 - Available online through URL: http://espace.library.curtin.edu.au/R/?func=dbin-jump-full&object_id=131986&local_base=GEN01-ERA02. Perth: Curtin University of Technology

Kish-Gephart, J., Detert, J., Trevino, L. K., Baker, V., & Martin, S. (2014). Situational Moral Disengagement: Can the Effects of Self-Interest be Mitigated? Journal of Business Ethics, 125(2), 267-85.

Miska, C., Hilbe, C., & Mayer, S. (2014). Reconciling Different Views on Responsible Leadership: A Rationality-Based Approach. Journal of Business Ethics, 125(2), 349-60.

Tsai, Y. H., Joe, S. W., Lin, C. P., & Wang, R. T. (2014). Modeling Job Pursuit Intention: Moderating Mechanisms and Socio-Environmental Consciousness. Journal of Business Ethics, 125(2), 287-98.