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Business and Professional Ethics Journal

Volume 38, Issue 1, Spring 2019

Jeffrey Overall, Steven A. Gedeon
Pages 43-78
DOI: 10.5840/bpej201812776

A Rational Egoism Approach to Virtue Ethics
A Conceptual Model and Scale Development

Woiceshyn (2011) showed that leaders who exhibit rational egoistic behaviors not only make decisions that lead to organizational success, but that these decisions are also ethical. Woiceshyn’s ethical decision-making model consists of seven fundamental virtues associated with rational egoism: rationality, productiveness, justice, independence, honesty, integrity, and pride. In this paper, we define the rational egoism construct using a virtues-based ethical framework. We compare and contrast the seven virtues under rational egoism with alternative interpretations that arise under altruism, deontology, and teleology in order to further refine the construct. Based on this analysis, we conceptualize rational egoism as a Type II second-order formative model and develop a scale based on the seven underlying virtues. Through the use of partial least squares path modelling (PLS-PM), we validate this on a sample of 534 full-time American workers. We then demonstrate that this rational egoism construct has a strong, positive relationship to the transformational leadership construct. Implications for practice are discussed and areas for future study are suggested.