Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Business Administration

First Advisor

Pearson, John


Entrepreneurs face constraints that more mature organizations may not. These constraints cause unique pressures within entrepreneurship. Although ethics and entrepreneurship have individually received much attention in the academic literature, not enough research has investigated ethics within entrepreneurship. This study addresses the need of ethics research within entrepreneurship. Utilizing the theory of planned behavior, this research investigates the ethical decision making process of entrepreneurs. Not all ethical situations are created equally, and not all entrepreneurs are created equally. The ethical environment of any situation can be financially concerned or socially concerned. Likewise, entrepreneurs can be motivated by a private financial gain or a social impact. A multi-scenario approach known as policy-capturing is used to examine the relative importance entrepreneurs place on attitude, subjective norms, perceived behavioral control (PBC), and self-identity when faced with a financial and a social ethical decision. The findings suggest that the environment does affect the ethical decision making process as defined by the relative importance of the variables. Within each environment, personal demographic variables of entrepreneurs were also found to affect their ethical decision making process. Such variables included entrepreneurial orientation, gender, love of money, financial security, spirituality/religiosity, idealism, and relativism. By considering the effects of the ethical environment along with the demographics of the entrepreneur, potential investors may be able to more accurately gauge investment opportunities. Implications of the findings, limitations of the study, and future research areas are discussed.




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