We explored our participants’ opinions about the usefulness of Shannon Bowen’s model of ethical decision making. Here is the model we explored:
This Kantian model and an explanation of it can be found in the following source:
Bowen, S. (2005). A practical model of ethical decision making in issues management and public relations. Journal of Public Relations Research, 17(3), 191-216. doi:10.1207/s1532754xjprr1703_1
Highlights From the Study
- We found through our pretest that we needed to update some of the language used in the model so it would resonate with Millennials. You can see the updated wording in our study.
- Most Millennials found the revised six questions in the model to be very useful. The next step in this research is to explore the actual use of the model by an organization. If your organization is interested in adopting the model and engaging in further testing of it with us, please contact me at derville(at)uoregon(dot)edu.
- Minorities reported significantly more constraints from job security and personal ambition than did non-minorities, which suggests that employers can do a better job of relationship building with minority employees. More research is needed to parse out differences among races and ethnicities to avoid broad dichotomies of minority versus non-minority.
- Millennials expressed that they have far better relationships with their agencies when they are empowered to make their own decisions regarding ethical dilemmas.
- About 75 percent of participants disagreed with the model’s assumption that job security, personal ambition and workplace politics would interfere with their ability to make ethical decisions. Qualitative research is needed to explore why participants answered in this way.
- For more findings, you can read our study in PRSA’s PR Journal (volume five, issue two).
This research was supported by the Public Relations Society of America Foundation and the University of Oregon. This study won the Jackson-Sharpe Award, sponsored by Jackson, Jackson & Wagner and Likely Communication Strategies, at the 13th annual International Public Relations Research Conference. We thank Shannon Bowen for her feedback on this study.