Arthur Andersen surveyed more than 2,800 employees of six large U.S. companies with ethics programs in place. It found that the key factor in the success or failure of the program is employees’ perceptions of management’s motivation for the establishment of the program.
When employees perceive that the program was created to help guide behavior and establish or reinforce company values, it is more likely to be successful than if employees perceive it to be created to prevent, detect and punish violations of the law, or to improve the company’s image.
In fact, the study found that if employees believe the program was set up to protect top management, the program can result in more unethical conduct than if the company had no program.
SOURCE: Arthur Andersen, New York, February 1, 1999.