In general, the business ethics literature has treated the conceptual domains and outcomes of macro-level (industrial), meso-level (organizational), and micro-level (individual) ethical influence separately. However, this singular treatment ignores the synergies and tensions that can arise across these different types of ethical influence. Using sales as a research context, the current study argues that all three ethical frames of references are important in shaping employee behavior and performance and, as such, should be examined simultaneously. The findings show that industrial ethical climate and salesperson moral equity are positively associated with salesperson customer orientation. In addition, industrial and organizational ethical norms have a stronger joint effect on customer orientation than either ethical climate alone. More specifically, a more ethical organizational climate enhances the positive effects of the industrial ethical climate on customer orientation. Furthermore, whereas salesperson moral equity is significantly associated with salesperson customer orientation, strong moral equity beliefs in situations requiring adaptive selling result in weaker sales outcomes. This study concludes with a set of theoretical and actionable implications, as well as a discussion of future research avenues.
- Adaptive selling
- Customer orientation
- Industrial ethical climate
- Moral equity belief
- Organizational ethical climate