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Joe Bucci April, 2007

Ethical DM Model Development

Empowering Business Students to Create their own Ethical Decision-Making Model

Joseph J. Bucci

Geneva College

To be presented at:

Christian Business Faculty Association

Annual Conference 2007

Joe Bucci April, 2007
Ethical DM Model Development

Rev. Joseph J. Bucci, M.Ed., MBA

Anderson University, Anderson IN
 4 courses completed towards a Doctor in Business Administration (expected 2010)
West Chester University, West Chester, PA
 Master of Business Administration, December 2000 – GPA 3.80
William Paterson University, Wayne, NJ
 Master of Education, May 1981 – GPA 3.30
 Bachelor of Arts: Political Science, May 1979 – GPA 3.73
Berean University, Springfield, MO
 Ministerial Diploma, June 1986 – GPA 4.00
 American Society for Training & Development, National and Regional Chapters

Rev. Bucci has over 20 years experience in various Human Resources and Training roles, including five years as
Director of the Learning Department of a large corporation in Philadelphia, PA. He is also an Ordained minister
with the Assemblies of God fellowship of churches. He is currently starting his second year as an Assistant
Professor in the Business, Accounting and Management Department at Geneva College, a private Christian college
in Western Pennsylvania with about 1320 full time students, with over 200 enrolled in the Business department.

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Ethical DM Model Development

Methodology for Developing an Ethical Decision-Making Model

As a new instructor in the Business Department, the opportunity was given to teach a

core course in the curriculum, “Business Management and Business Ethics.” Previous

experience in developing leadership courses as the Director of Training for a Christian-based

organization had provided background in teaching leadership courses and identifying potential

ethical issues from which lively debates challenged supervisors on their typical approach in

handling ethical matters. But in both a college classroom and a factory environment ethical

issues were identified and debated, with each individual staking their claim to follow the moral

high ground in theory, but perhaps not in practice. In reviewing various syllabi by other faculty,

much of the focus in developing an ethical frame-of-reference relied on classic philosophy and

the use of a dialectic method of discussion, where the perspectives from ethicists such as Nitche

(Instinct), Hume (Emotion), and Kant (Reason or Intellect) would be brought forth and

discussed. Then members of class were given the opportunities for debate, with one on one side

of an issue, and one on the other. The author’s pragmatic business experience did not embrace

this approach as helpful for business students in creating a living ethical model from which to be

able to make refinements and handle a plethora of business issues confident of following their

own moral values. Also, in reading LaRue Toner Hosmer (2006), moral people in business will

need to learn to convincingly present a moral point of view, and not just believe it, or not just

give ascendance to it (Hosmer, 2006). It seemed that the development of a values-based ethical

model was a key for our business students, and the process for guiding students in the

development of their own personal ethical decision making model is the subject of this paper.

The first part of the course was focused on guiding students into discovery about what was meant

by Business Ethics and what the leadership literature, ethics literature and the Bible had to say

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about Business Ethics. This process was meant to bring students to the point where they could

develop their own model for making ethical business decisions.

Model Framework

In developing a framework for resolving an ethical dilemma, a traditional view of

decision-making was considered within the context of students’ firmly-held beliefs, broad

perspectives on leadership, and the identification of faith-grounded values. There then needs to

be a methodology for evaluating choices, and a consideration of the impact of such a decision on

the perceived rights of others (Hosmer, 2006). To effectively organize the details in the creation

of this ethical decision-making model, the author has arranged the parts of the process is a

logical sequence using the acronym ETHIC2 to define the components for clarity and future

validation. A graphic representation of the author’s process for developing an ethical decision-

making model is shown below:

ETHIC2 Model (Bucci, 2007) – Based on Ethical Decision-Making Models of Trevino (1986) and Hosmer (2006)
Convincing Moral
Ethical E – Examination of the I - Identification: C - Consideration of Solution Presented
Dilemma Sources that Form  Scope of Moral Outcomes: in Business
Beliefs (Moral Problem  Align Personal Beliefs Language-
Standards)  Shape dilemma and Perceived Benefits
into the form of a of Potential Decision Convincing
T - Identify and Endorse question  Determine Where There Response must be
Foundational Tenets on  Who is impacted will be Potential put forth using
Which One Stands Firm Impugning of the Business Language
 Variety of
Rights of Others, and Business
H - Create Set Of Alternatives
 Consider Impact of Principles to Build
Operating Values Which Decisions (done by Trust and Earn the
Define Expected choosing from a series Right to be Heard
Behaviors (in Rank of Ethical Tests) (in terms of faith
Order - Hierarchy) and values).
Classic DM Personal Beliefs/Interests Symptoms & Sources Course of Action & Impact Implementation

E - Examination. The first step in the process of developing an ethical decision-making

model would be an examination of the sources that form the student’s beliefs about management

and its ethical responsibilities. The student’s core beliefs may be uninformed, incorrect or

unrealistic, and so the source material is a critical place to begin. In doing so, students were

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encouraged to consider biblical scriptures and other literature written by authors with an

ideology based on biblical principles. The Bible is authoritative and normative when it comes to

ethical issues, and a reliable source for building an ethical decision-making model (DeWaay,

1992). Because the ethical question and course focus is one regarding the moral behavior of

leadership, specific attention was paid to leadership philosophies and theories that outlined

normative behavior patterns for leaders. For sources of ethical philosophies, the writings of

authors such as Hill (1997), Hosmer (2006) and Velasquez (2002) were considered containing

judicious models that reflected a strong moral perspective and were offered as source materials

to the students. Journal articles on ethical decision-making and moral leadership that reflect

biblical values were also considered, as well as other writings pertinent to outlining a

methodology for ethical decision-making.

For one student project a few of the following leadership theories were examined:

 Situational Leadership – Blanchard & Hersey (Guest, Hersey, & Blanchard, 1986; also
Blanchard, Zigarmi, P., & Zigarmi, D.,1985).
 Transformational Leadership – Noel Tichy (Tichy, & Devanna, 1986) and Bernard Bass
(Bass & Avolio, 1994).
 Level 5 Leadership – Jim Collins, Good to Great (Collins, 2001).
 Servant Leadership – Robert Greenleaf (Greenleaf & Spears, 1998).
 MBO – Management By Objective (Drucker, 1954).
 Path-Goal Theory of Leadership – Evans and House (House, 1997).
 Authentic Leadership – Bill George (George, 2003).
 Spiritual Leadership – Oswald Sanders (Sanders, 1994).
 Autocratic Leadership – Rensis Likert (Likert, 1961).
 Principle-Centered Leadership – Steven Covey (Covey, 1991).
 Transforming Leadership – Leighton Ford (Ford, 1991).
 Charismatic Leadership – Jay Conger (Conger & Kanungo, 1988).
 Participatory Leadership - Theories of Lewin and Vroom (Griffin, 2006).
 21 Laws of Leadership – John Maxwell (Maxwell, 2003).

After reviewing the above-mentioned lists of leadership traits and leadership systems, there does

not appear to be a specific behavior or trait tied to ethics. Clusters of normative leadership

behaviors, when demonstrated, will replicate actions sympathetic to people which are closely

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associated with ethical behaviors. In reality, it is the character of the leader that must guide

moral behavior in choices. Collins states that in order to demonstrate “Level 5 Leadership,” one

main attribute needed by the leader is personal humility (Collins, 2001). How can a person

pursue a humble heart without a contrite spirit (Isaiah 57:15, New International Version)? The

point is that ethics is more of a heart issue, and is defined as “a set of moral principles; a theory

or system of moral values” (word “ethic” from So to begin to develop an

ethical decision-making model, the first place the students were challenged to look was at the

issues that shape their own heart. The author of Proverbs wrote, “Above all else, guard your

heart, for it is the wellspring of life.” (Proverbs 4:23).

T – Tenets or Core Beliefs. Once research and resource examination was complete, step

two of the process was for the students to develop statements of faith and statements of

management philosophy that defined the ethical principles on which their leadership decisions

would be made. Students were asked to determine the underpinnings of their ethical point of

view, and what they said they believe about God, about people, and about business. Students

were challenged to articulate Scriptures, moral principles, and tenets from their other readings

that formed the foundation or the “roots” of their ethical decision-making model.

Some examples of such core scriptures would be the following:

 Leaders are to be above reproach, self-controlled, good reputation - 1 Timothy 3:2

 Leaders are to be sincere, respectful, patient, humble, gracious – 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
 Leaders are to be faithful to their charge – 1 Corinthians 4:2. Theirs is an appointed
position (Mark 10:40; Romans 13:1).
 Leaders are to have a servant’s heart - Matthew 20:28
 Understand leadership is a trust, not claimed for oneself - Psalms 75:6-7
 Leaders are to bring consistent results – John 15:16
 A Leader should be a person of discernment - Proverbs 28:11
 Leaders must not lord their authority over persons for whom they are responsible – Mark
 Leaders are to live and work among their people as an example - Hebrews 13:7
 Leaders are to be accountable, as people under authority – Matthew 8:9; Hebrews 13:17

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 Leaders are to be people with integrity of hear and skillful hands – Psalm 78:72
 Leaders inspire their people, intercede on their behalf, and inspect their work – Nehemiah 4

From examining popular management literature, students were to identify and articulate core

beliefs about leadership which resonated with their personal beliefs about the leadership role and

responsibilities. Here are some examples:

 People can and want to develop. Leadership is a partnership (Blanchard, Zigarmi, P., &
Zigarmi, D.,1985; George, 2003; Bass & Avolio, 1994)
 A leader’s role: getting the right people in the right seats on the bus. Seeking to produce
results through people in a self-effacing way. (Collins, 2001).
 Begin with the end in mind, be proactive, develop self-mastery, think win-win (Covey, 1989)
 Feedback (from subordinates and supervisors) is the breakfast of champions (Blanchard,
Zigarmi, P., & Zigarmi, D.,1985; Conger & Kanungo, 1988).
 Managers’ decision-making is flawed and biased, and they need strategies for overcoming
their biases (Banaji,, Bazerman, & Chugh, 2003). Most managers narrowly use only one
style of leadership, while employees require adjusting to the different tasks to which they are
assigned (Blanchard, Zigarmi, & Zigarmi, 1985). In order to maximize performance,
flexibility in directing and coaching is required.
 There is a redemptive opportunity when addressing performance issues with individuals that
can add benefit to the person and help the organization as performance improves (Banks &
Stevens, 1997).

Ethical theories were examined and chosen which matched students values:

 The author strongly related to Hosmer’s “Analytical Process for the Resolution of
Moral Problems” (Hosmer, 2006). However, questions emerged as to how well
before a moral problem was defined could a manager know the moral impact
(benefits, harms, rights denied)? So, some modification to Hosmer’s model may be
 Virtue Theory: Normative theories are action-oriented. Virtue theory addresses
“being” vs. “doing.” It is more than just knowing right from wrong. The focus is on
achieving our personal ethical ideal by stressing the centrality of character (issues of
the heart – emphasis mine) and love as an expression of character (Velasquez, 2002).
 Trevino’s (1986) ethical decision-making model considers internal and external
moderators and their impact on ethical decision-making, and so would be a good
choice for developing an ethical decision-making model based on core beliefs
(Bartlett, 2003).

H – Hierarchy of Values. The next step for the students was to recognize that upon their

underlying beliefs their values are built. An effort was made to help students draw out of their

beliefs some solid principles on which to fix their values. As seen in the model above, from

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stated beliefs values are defined which would direct actionable decision-making. Core beliefs

will dictate subsequent behavior (Atran, Medin, & Ross, 2005). When a clearly articulated

hierarchy of values are in place in an organization they assist managers in developing a balanced

perspective for decision-making and resolving ethical issues in the most positive way for all

constituents involved (Badaracco, 1992). Values embody the character of an individual or an

organization, and assist managers in understanding the scope of their moral responsibilities.

Values should be prioritized to avoid conflicts. Below is an example of the author’s “Hierarchy

of Values” drawn from the core biblical scriptures and the management references stated above:

 Intentionality – living purposely and intently, knowing who I am and whose I am, in order to
make effective choices and direct others accordingly.
 Transparency – living an integrated life, and learning from mistakes. Letting followers see
that I can err, but seeking forgiveness when I do.
 Responsiveness – mindful to listen to and desiring to meet the needs of others along the lines
of using one’s gifts, with second-mile patience.
 Conformity – understanding the nature of service and living comfortably under authority.
Jesus cited the Centurion as one who displayed more faith than He had seen in all of Israel.
 Potentiality – hopeful to affirm and cultivate the talents and abilities of others in redemptive

I - Identification. At this point in the ETHIC2 Model, the scope of the ethical dilemma

has previously chosen by the students from a source text book. The responsibility for the

students here is to define scope of the moral problem, to refine and shape the ethical dilemma

into the form of a question, to determine those who are impacted by the decision, and to consider

the variety of various alternatives. In searching for alternatives to resolving ethical dilemmas,

Messick and Bazerman (1996) offer a wide range of options that could assist the manager in not

narrowing their heuristic or becoming overconfident in their perceptions in order to avoid

unethical decision-making. Some of the options included developing corporate policies

prohibiting stereotyping, creating feedback loops in layers of decisions, using quantitative data

rather than subjective information for decisions, and strong self-reflective techniques which

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challenge the manager to consider the decision outcomes (Messick & Bazerman, 1996). In

considering alternatives to resolve their ethical dilemma, the students need to consider in what

ways they will seek to avoid impartiality. How will they check their decision-making to avoid

advancing their own interests over the interests of others? Students needed time to analyze the

ethical dilemma to form a question from which the rest of their decision-making process would

radiate. They would refer back to articulated statements of faith and now bring their values into

sharper focus, leading to some further questioning of why they say their adhere to certain beliefs,

and whether or not they act on these beliefs accordingly. This leads to the next step in the


C – Consideration of Outcomes. This section of the ethical model further considers the

impact of the decision on the perceived rights of others in preparation for the development of a

convincing argument to justify the decision. Managerial decision-making is believed by some to

be corrupted due to an inflated self-perception (this writer might use the word sin or selfishness).

For managers, there is an illusion of objectivity and a false sense of fairness (Banaji, Bazerman

& Chugh, 2003). Therefore managers must go further than a seemingly “balanced” approach

and make a convincing argument why their decision should be viewed as right or fair (Hosmer,

2006). Hosmer (2006) provides a three-part framework to analyze and resolve ethical decisions

considering the impact looking through the lenses of economic outcomes, legal requirements and

the ethical duties of managers. Alexander Hill suggests that the goal of Christian ethics is for the

believer to imitate the character of God by applying God’s character traits (identified as holiness,

justice, and love) in the consideration of outcomes. Hill suggests that Christian ethics requires

all three characteristics be taken into account when a decision is made (Hill, 1997). This author

encouraged students to consider the integration of outcomes with business applications (ethical,

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legal, managerial) promoted by Hosmer to be significant in terms of increasing trust,

commitment and effort expended by the employees under a manager’s care. Students were asked

to answer questions as to the outcomes their decision might have: considering the outcomes of

where others’ rights are denied, where the decision costs their company some sales, or where a

contract is involved. The students’ outcomes were to be examined following the Hosmer model,

and a Convincing Moral Argument, the final piece of the model development process, was to

be developed by students to answer their ethical question. There would be opportunity later in

the term for students to present the ethical dilemma and their model for resolving this dilemma,

under the scrutiny of the class’s questioning.

It is in this section of the model where decision alternatives are previewed in terms of

whether the implications of these alternatives mirror the stated values and beliefs of the decision-

maker. Hosmer directs that managers cannot just reach a decision on an issue they believe in

thinking that their approached is balanced when others rights are not recognized or when others

rights are denied (Hosmer, 2006). It is beneficial for a manager to see the potential impact of

their decision clearly and objectively if at all possible to gauge the impact. When confronted

with an ethical dilemma these “tests” are often the only means used in much of the literature to

determine an appropriate ethical response (Northern Illinois University, 2006). Several “ethical

tests” were examined which could help facilitate the decision-making process:

 Concise Model for Resolving Ethical Disputes (Blanchard & Peale, (1988).
 Ethics Checklist for Making Difficult Decisions (Beatty & Samuelson, 2001).
 Guidelines for Analyzing a Contemplated Action (Twomey et al., 2001).
 Goal Setting and Outcome Predicting (Fisher & Phillips, 2004).
 The Newspaper Test (Buffet & Lowe, 1997).
 The PLUS Ethics Decision Making Model and Test (Ethics Resource Center, 2006).
 An Overview of Ethical Decision Making Models (Farleigh Dickinson University, 2006).
 Holiness, Justice, Love: three divine characteristics central to Christian ethics (Hill, 1997).
 The Golden Rule (Maxwell, 2003).

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There are consistent principles found in many of the previously mentioned sets of ethical tests,

including whether the action is legal, the fairness of the action, and a consideration of how the

action would look in a newspaper or by the light or day or to a group of investors. Students were

encouraged to choose one or more ethical test, but not use an ethical test exclusively to resolve

their ethical dilemma.

Managers need to utilize clear unbiased processes and objective information when

making critical decisions, due to the potential liability for lawsuits where an action is deemed

wrongful. Students need the opportunity not only to practice ethical decision-making in non-

threatening classroom case studies but the opportunity to determine the source of their ethical

beliefs. As stated by Hosmer (2006) students need to understand that managers cannot simply

rely on their own intuition or their beliefs of what is right and fair to make a decision when faced

with a moral problem. Moral standards differ among people, and managers will have to deal

with the differences (Hosmer, 2006). Managers must go further and make a convincing

argument why that decision and balance should be viewed as right or fair. Students cannot just

say, “the Bible says.” They will need to learn to communicate their decision in the language of

business – students will need economic, legal and human resource rationale. If the above

approach is followed consistently, Hosmer (2006) states that there will be an increase in trust,

commitment and effort expended by those groups.

In the Biblical Management and Business Ethics course, students were by given the

opportunity to study what the leadership literature, ethics literature and the Bible have to say

about Business Ethics. The process was meant to bring students to the point where they could

develop their own model for making ethical business decisions. Once guidelines were given for

the development of an ethical decision-making model (the aforementioned methodology)

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students were charged with developing their own decision-making model, choosing and

thoroughly examining a case study, clearly identify the issue, and make a recommendation for a

solution based on their own personal ethical decision-making model. In class, two students were

given the same case to study, and they had to work separately on it. Students were then given a

date to briefly present their cases to see how different persons with different models resolved

these ethical dilemmas.

Instructors Observations from the Exercise – Developing an Ethical DM Model:

1. Some papers developed their thinking, kind of “thinking out-loud.” A sense of a model was

developed from a series of idea and beliefs. The construct of an outline or process for

making a decision seemed to be lacking.

2. Some papers gave an outline. Bullet points with the ideas formulated in groupings. A

narrative explaining how this arrangement was arrived at seemed lacking. Also, for some

outlines, a clear sense of how the decision-making process would occur was not always


3. Some students used a classic Decision-tree format. This was good, but it didn’t always tell

the instructor how they got to this point, or clearly develop some of the details the instructor

was looking to be included (like values-driven decision-making or clarity on Consideration

of Outcomes).

4. The papers which were determined to most meet the spirit of the assignment did the


 They addressed all the steps in the outline. The more easily recognizable the better.

 They developed their thinking on how they arrived at their construct, but then simply

explained the process to be followed.

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 They referenced their sources of evidence, whether using the Bible, the texts, handouts,

additional materials, etc. This was recommended in the outline given out in class. It was

not mandated, but it helped support their positions.

 There was a model of some kind which pulled all the material together: an outline, a

picture, a chart, flow-chart, etc. Again, not mandated, but something that pulled all the

details together. The instructor charted the process out in a similar visual fashion to assist

students in grasping the concept.

5. Things which added to the entire presentation: Bibliography and/or citing of material

references; a visual or diagram to pull things together; clearly delineated process.

The Grading Criteria Used by the Instructor:

Students were given the opportunity to first present their models, and then to revise their models

and resolve an ethical dilemma using their models (two different grade points). Below is the

criteria used for the second evaluation (Model used to Resolve an Ethical [Case Study] Dilmma).

1. State the Issue – “Is it ethical to …”

 Define the issue and establish the facts

2. Explain / Demonstrate Understanding of Various Dynamics:

 Others’ Rights

 Existing Laws / Standards

 Principles (whether Biblical or Social)

 Cultural Uniqueness

3. Consideration of Outcomes / Impact – define what you perceive will be the impact and

effects on others rights with different choices or options.

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4. Using Your Model, form a pattern for making a decision. Carefully but briefly use your

model to determine the course of action. Then, using a persuasive style, defend your

position using Moral reasoning with consideration of the Business impact:

 Economic

 Legal

 Social

 Human resource impact

(you do not have to use all of these, but they need to be understood and demonstrated)

5. A Critique of Your Model – how did it help, what might need to change?


After reading over a number of leadership theories and philosophies, this author found no clear

direction on the development of an ethical decision-making model. Character was mentioned a

couple of times. However, character without the right follow through (actions) is hypocrisy, just

as faith without works is dead (James 2:17 New King James Version). It seemed that true ethics

required a student or any Christian to know their heart (Proverbs 4); also to know their values;

and then to develop systems to act accordingly. The goals of this approach were to keep things

aligned; to encourage students to stay true to their beliefs; and to continue to earn trust of

employees in decision-making by living an integrated life and speaking values in the language of

business. It seemed to this author that in order to evaluate ethical dilemmas, decisions and

opportunities, students needed to have a process or method by which they could operate, one that

was observable in establishing it, with the ability to test it. It also seemed from the literature on

Business Ethics that ethics “tests” questions and rules were all external. Relational

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considerations could be tainted (not wanting to hurt a person that I want to like me). There

needed to be an External Demonstration of the Internal Code. It seemed that the field of

Business, particularly as taught at Christian colleges and universities, needed more of a

pragmatic decision-making model approach to making ethical decisions than simply a

philosophic debate. If this approach has any value to others, this author will give all the glory to

God who inspired its creation.

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