Joan Lee, Dawn Massey Both of Fairfield University
Teaching students to use their “RADAR”
Business professionals will, undoubtedly, face multiple ethical dilemmas over the course of their careers. As Jesuit educators, we hope that our students, graduates of Jesuit universities, are better equipped than others to address these dilemmas. One way in which we can do this is to provide them with an easy to apply model for ethical decision-making that draws its inspiration from Jesuit sources. That model, “RADAR” is the subject of this paper. While the model was developed for use by accounting professionals, the model is not specific to accounting and would benefit all in business. The accounting literature traditionally has relied on several seminal ethical decision-making models including Rest’s (1983) four-component model, which serves as the basis for Mintz and Morris’ (2020, 84) “Integrated Ethical Decision-Making Process;” the American Accounting Association’s (AAA) seven-step model (May 1990), which is drawn from Langenderfer and Rockness’ (1989) model; and the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants’ (AICPA) Ethics Decision Tree for CPAs in Business (AICPA 2015), which is similar to that contained in the Institute of Management Accountants’ (2017) Statement of Ethical Professional Practice. While all of these models offer insight into the decision-making process, none is complete. The AAA and AICPA models conclude once a decision is made, rather than after action is taken, implying that an ethical decision always will lead to an ethical action, even though the literature does not support such a 1:1 correspondence. Further, the AICPA model fails to explicitly consider Ethical Sensitivity (also known as Ethical Awareness), suggesting that all ethical dilemmas are perceived by accountants. Again, the literature does not support this (e.g., Jones et al. 2003; Massey & Van Hise 2009; O’Fallen and Butterfield 2005). Perhaps most importantly, each of the models overlooks “the fact that many nonrational factors influence ethical thought and behavior, including context, perceptions, relationship, emotions, and heuristics” (Rogerson et al. 2011, 614). That is, contextual factors join with individual factors in influencing reactions to ethical situations (Jones et al. 2003; O’Fallen and Butterfield 2005). In other words, affect combines with intellect in influencing responses to ethical dilemmas by professionals (Baysal et al. 2018, Latan et al. 2019). The “RADAR” model integrates the concept of “affect,” consistent with Lonergan, S.J. (1994), in ethical decision-making. As shown in Table 1, “RADAR” incorporates Lonergan’s 4-step approach and adds a fifth step, reflection, taken from the Ignatian Pedagogical Paradigm. The model is illustrated in Figure 1.