Ethical Business Decision Making Considering Stakeholder Interest

Document Type


Publication Date


Originally Published In

International Journal of Marketing and Technology

Volume Number


Issue Number


Page Numbers



A focus on short-term profit as an exclusive measure of business success has led to an erosion of stakeholder trust and opened the door for ethical misconduct. This study identified the values, beliefs, and experiences in the background of business leaders and led to the development of a process for decision making in which stakeholder interest is considered. This phenomenological study, grounded in the institutional theory, addressed how an ethical interpretive framework becomes institutionalized. The research question explored the attributes of decision making when there are ethical implications affecting stakeholders. Data were collected by interviewing 20 middle- to senior-level corporate leaders in the eastern half of the United States. The data were coded to identify themes, which were then analyzed.Four themes emerged: (a) honesty and integrity in interactions that are internal and external to the company; (b) doing the right thing, the right way for both stakeholders and the company; (c) weighing the benefits and risks to stakeholders and the company; and (d) transparency when acting and communicating. This research study was designed to assist business leaders with decision making when there are ethical implications affecting stakeholders that may result from their actions.