Employee learning and the institutionaliation of ethics
Foote, Marianne Ferraro
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The concept of integrating ethics in the workplace has been traditionally closely associated with federal compliance and regulations. There has been less focus on ways employees learn ethics, which is critical to institutionalize ethics and build more ethical organizations. In this study, an interpretive qualitative design was implemented using interviews to explore ways employees learn ethics at work. Purposeful sampling was used in the selection of the organization and the participants representing senior leaders, directors, and managers. The data analysis revealed four key themes, which led to three primary conclusions. The conclusions drawn from the findings suggest that informal and incidental learning, experiential learning and self-directed learning as the primary modes of learning ethics at work. Second, organizational systems were critical to support and solidify learning, especially as learning became increasingly self-directed. Finally, this study found that organizational culture actively promotes ethics and clearly fosters continued and enhanced learning around ethics. Implications for the practice and research for the field of HRD are presented.