Innovative Ethics Officers as Drivers of Effective Ethics Programs: An Empirical Study in The Netherlands

Sjoerd Hogenbirk*, Desirée H. van Dun

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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    Ethical misconduct and violations seriously harm individuals and organizations and lead to massive fines or the dismissal of employees and CEOs. Many firms have implemented ethics programs to prevent unethical behavior but these are often ineffective and take a traditional approach. Ethics officers are often responsible for running and developing ethics programs, in collaboration with other departments. They can therefore play a key role in improving ethics program effectiveness. We postulate that ethics officers need to adopt a more innovative approach in order to achieve ethical behavior amongst employees and managers, and that such an innovative approach requires certain personality traits. This study investigates how ethics officers’ personality traits and innovative work behaviors relate to the effectiveness of ethics programs and normative ethical behavior through an online questionnaire conducted among 110 ethics officers in large Dutch organizations. Structural equations modeling showed that innovative work behavior mediated the relationships between ethics officers’ openness to experience and ethics program effectiveness which, in turn, is related to more normative ethical behavior. Future research must examine the (partial) mediation effects, including other characteristics of ethics officers in relation to ethics program effectiveness and ethical behaviors at work, and replicate the study multi-nationally.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)76-89
    Number of pages14
    JournalBusiness ethics
    Issue number1
    Early online date1 Aug 2020
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021


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