The nature and management of ethical dilemmas: The experiences of Australian senior executives
Journal of Contemporary Issues in Business Research
Institute of Contemporary Business Research
School of Business and Law
This paper presents the findings of a qualitative study that examines the nature and management of ethical dilemmas experienced by Australian senior executives. Seventy-eight (78) Australian executives, represented by diverse industry backgrounds from both the public and private sectors, participated in the study. The researcher conducted semi-structured face-to-face interviews using Flanagan’s (1954) CIT (critical incident technique) in which participants were asked to recall a professional situation which they identified as an ethical dilemma and how they managed the situation. The participants’ responses were analysed with the assistance of NVivo (QSR International Pty Ltd, 2003), a qualitative data storage and retrieval program. The principal findings consisted of three themes which described the nature of respondents’ ethical dilemmas, namely; competing interests, relationship management and governance. The themes which described the management of these dilemmas were accountability, relationship-centredness, courage and withdrawal. This paper presents a background to the research including the methodology, data collection methods and participants’ background. This is followed by an overview of the literature, the findings and discussion relating to the nature and management of ethical dilemmas. It concludes with recommendations for further research.