Date of Conferral



Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)


Business Administration


Richard Johnson


Unethical behavior includes all decisions and actions counterproductive to an organization's mission and can cause irrevocable damage to the organization's professional reputation. The Securities and Exchange Commission reported 807 ethical violations in 2015. This study was underpinned by the ethical leadership theory, which emphasizes leadership decision making based on fair and just practices, for all involved parties. The purpose of this qualitative multiple-case study was to explore the ethical decision-making best practices that not-for-profit accounting managers in the Washington, DC, metropolitan area needed to strengthen the ethical decision-making process in their organizations. Data were collected through semistructured interviews from 5 participants who were accounting leaders of not-for-profit organizations. The analysis of data involved coding techniques, while member checking ensured confirmability of participant responses. Three themes emerged from the analysis of data as the most effective in fostering an ethical climate within the organizations, notably: the importance of leveraging internal controls, staff education on ethical decision making, and the role of leadership in fostering ethical leadership. The findings from this study may contribute to social change by providing leaders with strategies to reduce the occurrence of fraud within organizations. The beneficiaries of this research may include not-for-profit leaders, accounting professionals, and business practitioners. The goals of these individuals are to aid companies in furthering their missions and ensure organizations remain operational and utilize ethical decision making.