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Business and Professional Ethics Journal

Volume 34, Issue 2, Summer 2015

Charles D. Oden, Monika Ardelt, Cynthia P. Ruppel
Pages 141-164

Wisdom and Its Relation to Ethical Attitude in Organizations

Wisdom includes the practical application of knowledge, experience, reason, introspection, and intuition, but does its presence impact the ethical attitudes of individuals within organizations? Using Ardelt’s three-dimensional wisdom scale (2003) and a revised version of the ethical attitude measures developed by Wood, Longenecker, McKinney, and Moore (1988), empirical analysis was conducted using 329 responses from non-instructional staff at three colleges located in the southeast. This study is among the first to empirically test the impact of wisdom in a business setting, and also to empirically test the relation between wisdom and ethical attitudes. Correlation and regression analysis results indicated that greater wisdom was positively related to ethical attitudes and the rejection of questionable business practices that are harmful to others and the environment. Also, age was found to be positively related to an individual’s rejection of ethically questionable activities. These findings suggest that developing and encouraging higher levels of wisdom among employees within an organization will likely result in more ethical business practices.

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