Complex interactions that may occur during the moral development stage along with other variables such as a person's characteristics, the structure design within the organization, the organization's culture, and the level of intensity of the ethical issue at hand, all contribute to whether or not a person will act ethically or unethically. A lack in moral sense drives individuals to make the wrong choices. This is especially true when the individual is limited by rules, policies, or a disapproving culture within the workplace. On the other hand, people with a high sense of morale can be easily influenced by a work community that allows or even encourages unethical behavior.
The structure within in a business can easily determine whether or not an employee will behave eithically or unethically. Some organizations are apt to influence their employees by providing strong guidance. On the other hand, other organizations lack and instead create uncertainty and ambiguity. Organizations that lessen uncertainty and ambiguity are those that have established formal rules and policies. These organizations encourage ethical behavior by continuously reminding their employees of what constitutes ethical and unethical behavior. Authors B.Z Posner and W.H Schmidt talk about how research shows that a mangers set the example through their behavior. A managers behavior serves as the most important influence on an employees decision to make a right or wrong decision. (202-216). Employees look at the example set forth by upper management to determine what is considered to be an acceptable or unacceptable practice. B. Victor and J.B Cullen authors of "The Organizational Bases of Ethical Work Climates" refer that the culture within a business influences ethical behavior. A culture within an organization that promotes high ethical standards is one that is high in risk tolerance, control and conflict tolerance. (Victor, Cullen 101-125). This type of culture encourages their employees to be aggressive and innovative. Employees are fully aware that unethical behavior will not be tolerated and will be discovered. Strong cultures within an organization highly influence whereas weak cultures do not. If the culture within an organization is strong and exhibits high ethical standards, then its employees are likely to follow in their footsteps and make ethically sound decisions.
In a school setting, it is not uncommon for friends to share information about what information was on a particular exam. However, these same students would not even consider the notion of stealing the exam straight out of the instructor's office. Similarly, a person in a management position may not concern himself when taking home office supplies from work but might fret over the possibility of stealing money from the company.