Ethics Code Familiarity and Usefulness: Views on Idealist and Relativist Managers Under Varying Conditions of Turbulence

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The purpose of this present research is to expand upon the foundation that codes of ethics are more useful guides to managers in their behavior and decision-making when managers are more familiar with code content and intentions. We explore whether the impact of code familiarity on code usefulness differs: (a) under varying conditions of turbulence and (b) between persons with relativist versus idealist personal values. Data have been collected from a sample of 1700 executives in member companies of the U.S. Direct Selling Association, and responses were received from 286 (16.8% returned). Perceptions of ethics code familiarity and usefulness decline as business turbulence increases. The decline in familiarity/usefulness was more pronounced for managers with a relativistic ethical orientation.