Codes of ethics exist in many, if not the majority, of all large U.S. companies today. But how the impact of these written codes affect managerial attitudes and behavior is still not clearly documented or explained. This study takes a step in that direction by proposing that attention should shift from the codes themselves as the sources of ethical behavior to the persons whose behavior is the focus of these codes. Tn particular, this study investigates the role of code familiarity as a factor impacting the influence of an ethics code on manager behavior. Data collected from 286 executives from companies in the direct selling industry are used to test hypotheses (1) that the perceived usefulness of ethics codes is positively related to the degree of familiarity with the code, and (2) that ethical climate as assessed by managers is positively related to the code’s perceived usefullness. Both hypotheses are supported, and their implications and further research directions are discussed.
Keywords: Employee Relations, Ethics