Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Education (EdD)

Graduate Group


First Advisor

Stanton E. F. Wortham


This dissertation explores some of the difficulties that arise when using the cognitive development model to explain ethical behaviour in the world of work. An alternative theoretical position is explored, one that was originally developed in anthropology by Richard Shweder and Jonathan Haidt. This position asserts that ethical behaviour is not universal, it is instead highly contextual and may be influenced by both organisational and ethnic/national culture. The influence of culture on ethical behaviour is explored using narrative research techniques. The research is based on thirty in depth interviews with senior executives who frequently faced ethical dilemmas at work. Interviewees represented a number of diverse cultural backgrounds (including British, Dutch, US, Indian, Saudi, Colombian and Brazilian) and a number of strong organisation cultures. The conclusions emphasize the importance of personal networks as a resource for resolving ethical dilemmas and the importance of different cultural approaches to managing power relations within personal networks. The conclusions question both the current and future role of compliance functions in global corporations and the effectiveness of leadership development and staff training in the field of values and ethics