Measuring Small Business Owners Differences In Moral Thought: Idealism Versus Relativism

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Johannes A. Wiid
Michael C. Cant
Claudette van Niekerk


Ethics, Morals, Idealism, Relativism, Small Businesses, South Africa


The failure of internationally renowned organisations together with the global financial catastrophe in 2008, which emerged as a result of the collapse in corporate governance, in general, and business ethics, in particular, has led to an amplified focus on business ethics around the world. This has led to governments, private sector, and even individuals to call for stronger regulation and control of business practices in order to stamp out, or at least to reduce, instances of morally and ethically questionable practices.

The main purpose of this study was to measure small business owners differences in moral thought based on idealism and relativism. This is measured by determining the ethical ideological classification of individuals based on Forsyths ethical taxonomy. The research followed a quantitative analysis and an online survey questionnaire was used to collect the data from Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) owners in South Africa. The results found that the majority of SME owners fall in the situationist and absolutist category of Forsyths ethical taxonomy.


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