Ethical Behaviour Affects The Conduct Of Staff Commerce Essay

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Ethics refers to a code of behaviour that guides an individual in his relationship with others. It has to do with personal attitude and morality. It is concerned with what is good and bad. In business it is concerned with rules and regulations of good moral and conducts. The business community in Nigeria faced so many problems of ethics which necessitate the need for the development of ethical codes of conduct for organisations in Nigeria. Both issues are examined in this paper. Nigerian business as used in the paper refers to business organisations situated in Nigeria. It could also mean engaging in business transactions with individuals and business organisations located in Nigeria


The study takes into consideration business ethics in Nigeria, relating it to what obtained in some of the developed countries of the world, where businesses are very ethically conscious.

European business ethics has a protestant background. Schumpeter (1934) linked free enterprise with protestant ethics that legalized the rational pursuit of economic gains. The traditional work ethics emphasizes the inherently good nature of work and that by working hard, one can overcome problems by accumulating material wealth. It holds that God's grace is achieved as one succeeds in life (Yoder and Staudohar 1982).

In the United States, the religion ethically controlled business practices in the 1930s. The spread of business ethics in the U.S was controlled by a number of factors, which included the country's abundant natural resources and the notion that America, is God's own country with abundant opportunities and the Americans 'post war patriotism. (Yoder and Staudohar 1982).

In the Soviet block, ethics took a different dimension. Marxism and socialism were used to solidify the linkage between work as an end in itself and the overall development of the society. The Japanese have work ethics that emphasizes excellence ramifications. Thus, business ethics in various places and situation derived from religious doctrine, political and economic philosophy, cultural norms and values.

The Islamic countries like Iran, Saudi Arabia and Iraq have religion controlling all matters of business dealings. Nigerians like Japanese have customs and moral values that could be used as building blocks in developing business ethical values. But Nigeria has had vagaries of political and economic instability, and leadership patterns that had robbed off the application of these values in business operations. Also, among the ruling elites, lack of ethics is leading to failure and collapse of multi-million dollar public corporations and enterprises.


The study sought to find out:

Whether or not

1. Giving training to the managers on how to handle ethical issues is important?

2. Being ethical improve profit and enhances reputation of an organisation?

3. Business Ethics fused personal and social responsibility together

4. Business ethics gives protection to customer's employees, small businessmen government, shareholders and creditors

5. Business ethics must be voluntary, must not be enforced by law

6. Business ethics is not followed properly in poor and developing countries due to lack of proper education and guidance on ethics.


The main objective of the study was to measure how good ethical behaviour affects the conduct of staff.

Whether or not there is declined in unethical behaviours among the staff based on the effort of the bank management to fight corruption.

It also sought to establish the gender, age, marital status, and education status of respondents.

It also sought to establish the extent of unethical behaviour in relation to the demographic variables listed in 3. Above.




The present concern for business ethics or ethical behaviour in the organisation is similar to the social responsibility debate of the 1970s. Around the mid - 1960s in the U.S, questions about the role of business and debates about the business-society relationships had reached a high frequency (Mintzberg, 1982).

In the U.K., majority of organisations subscribed to a published code of practice and statement of mission, and statement of social responsibility. Therefore, codes existed as a significant part of organisations life. However, whether they do or can affect behaviour is very much in question.

Gray (1990) noted that the current business ethics debates and the debates on social responsibility before it has failed to 'take root' where it matters in organisations and governments.

Literature of business ethics is mostly described in terms of individuals and in particular the self-interest or the moral motivation of individuals. There is the problem of the nature of relationship between individual and organisation roles, and a consideration for "individual role" in the organisation (Wilbug, 1988). Organisations on the other hand, are seen as managerialists, where managers have powers in their own hands to change organisation to benefit their own interest. This is a simplistic view. In actual practice, the process of changing the moral or ethical behaviour of organisation is extremely difficult and requires careful approach (Smith, 1982).

Gray (1990) put forward two ways of introducing ethical changes in the society. First is the revolutionary way. Second, being the market way which is, somewhat unethical and shows no desirable possibilities for the species.

Our discussion of the practice in U.S.A. and U.K. is not intended to show that ethical issues are not given the much attention that they require in these countries. Rather, it is to show that there are considerable rooms from improvement. Studies of ethics have been made compulsory courses in the advanced countries in institutions of learning based on the belief is that the more you teach or repeat them, the more they are likely to take root in the hearts of the people and consequently influence their behaviour?


Africa is the world third largest continent, after Asia and America. It has a population of over 600 million people, which is about 10% of the world population. In terms of Development, however it is the poorest. It is prone to disease and pestilence and home to large population of refugees because of conflicts. These conflicts are mainly due to ethnic or religious bigotry, posed by indiscipline or unethical behaviours. It is significant to note that presently almost all African countries are ravaged by one form of socio-political disturbance or the other (Umaru, 2000). It is obvious that African countries have enormous ethical problems which are currently the output of political instability, lack of resources and miss-application of resources, negative work habits and unethical behaviour. The results are lack of and slow pace of economic development.


Lack of commitment to ethical behaviour is so enormous and a big concern for excellence and self-reliance in Nigeria and in Nigerian Organisations. The greatest socioeconomic problems in Nigeria and indeed Africa, which must be address, are that of breakdown in morals, work ethics, discipline, social responsibility and general civility among its citizens (Akinyemi 2002).

Ethical problems have forced various governments in Nigeria since the 1976 administration to introduce one form of legislation or the other to curb this monster.

Since 1997 and up to 2003, Nigeria had consistently been listed as one of the corrupt countries in the world by Transparency international. In its 2001 annual corruption index released by Transparency International (TI), Nigeria was second to the Asian country of Bangladesh. The reported survey of 91 countries ranked Nigeria 90th while Bangladesh ranked 91st. Other countries in the bottom ranked states were; Uganda, Indonesia, Kenya, Cameroun, Bolivia, Ukraine, and Tanzania. Ranking of some other African countries were Zambia 25, Zimbabwe 65, Malawi 61, South Africa 38 and Namibia 30. Botswana had the lowest perceived corruption rate of any developing country and was no. 30 on the index. Rich countries topped the clean list as they had the lowest level of public corruption. The cleanest were Finland, Denmark, New Zealand, Iceland Singapore, Sweden, Canada, Netherlands, Luxembourg and Norway, while Haiti, a small Island in the Caribbean topped the list of corrupt countries in the world. Coming second and third were Berman and Iraq respectively, while Bangladesh was in the 8th position in the list released by Transparency International. Nigeria did not make the list of the 10 most corrupt countries that year.

Eso (2007) described the anti-corruption officers of the EFCC and Independent Corrupt Practices Commission (ICPC) of the President Olusegun Obasanjo's regime as highly disciplined officers.

Asian countries such as Pakistan and Singapore were at the same level of economic development as Nigeria at independence but produced entrepreneurs who responded positively to government economic policies, thus making the countries better developed than Nigeria (Ogundele 2000). The relatively lower level of development in Nigeria was partly connected to acts of indiscipline which were unethical behaviours.

A comprehensive description and analysis of unethical business practices in Nigeria including electronic fraud was given by Ogundele and Opeifa (2004). In another study by Joseph (1991) it was suggested oil revenues that were available for investment purpose, if properly used, could have Placed Nigeria among industrialized nations of the world.

The various governmental initiatives and actions and the writing of concerned citizens were targeted at ensuring and putting in place an ethically decent society.

The present study of ethical behaviour attempts to establish how far Nigerians and Nigerian organisations have moved towards establishing good ethical behaviour in the individual. Ekpo-Ufot (1990) study of ethical behaviour in Lagos State among prison inmates, the seminary and the general public and Ogundele (1999) study of ethical behaviour in the primary, secondary and tertiary educational institutions in Lagos and Oyo State serve as benchmark for this current study.


During General Murtala Muhammed's regime in 1975, large number of people were either dismissed or forced into retirements due to one form of corruption or another. President Shehu Shagari asserted that "bribery, corruption, and lack of dedication to duty, dishonesty and all such vices were the major problems of his administration. (Enahoro, 1982).

General Muhammed Buhari's regime came up with a Decree on War against Indiscipline (WAI), instituted to put an end to unethical behaviour in both public and private organisations in 1984. This was however abruptly terminated by General Ibrahim Babangida in 1985 and ushered in a program in the Directorate of Mass Mobilisation for Social justice and economic recovery. (MAMSER). General Sani Abacha replaced MAMSER with National Orientation Agency (NOA) in 1993. The objective was to ensure ethical and patriotic behaviour by individuals and organisations in Nigeria. Another organisation called, the Independent Corrupt Practices and other Offences Commission (ICPC) was established in 2000 by General Olusegun Obasanjo second regime. Again in 2004, the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) was established both aimed at curbing unethical behaviour in the society.

Several concerned scholars had come up one aspect ethical problems or the other with (Osahon {1981}, Oji {1982}, Nwankwo {1985}, Bolaji {1985}, Ezewu {1985}, Nzeribe {1986}, Ayagi {1990},).

Ike (2002) noted that it is important to clarify and reinforce core values and to ensure that the organisational systems, policies and procedures support and contribute to ethical conduct for investment purpose.

From the foregoing it is clear that Nigeria business organisations, with current unethical practices in their environment, are at a disadvantage in global business practices which demand ethical behaviour.

Joseph (1991) declared that no one can conduct the affairs of any office satisfactorily whether in government, private business and even civic organisation if the first, middle and the last concern of such an individual is how he or she can extract ultimate personal material benefit from routine transactions. This description typifies common practices in most private and public organisations in Nigeria.




The study being reported was conducted at keystone Bank Limited, commonly referred to as Keystone Bank, is a commercial bank in Nigeria. The bank is one of the commercial banks licensed by the Central Bank of Nigeria, the national banking regulator.

Keystone Bank offers banking services to large corporations, public institutions, small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) and individuals. The bank is a large financial services provided in Nigeria. As of January 2012, the exact asset valuation of the bank and the valuation of its shareholding are not publicly known.

On Friday 05 August 2011, Keystone Bank Limited was issued a commercial banking license by the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN). On the same day, CBN revoked the banking license of Bank PHB. Keystone Bank assumed the assets and some liabilities of the now defunct Bank PHB.

The bank is 100% owned by the Asset Management Corporation of Nigeria (AMCON), and maintains a network of over 200 business offices and locations in all the states of Nigeria.

Respondents included people working in the bank and customers of the bank. Also, both management and operative personnel were involved. The main objective was to measure the extent good ethical behaviour has affect the conduct of staff and whether or not there is declined in unethical behaviours among the staff based on the effort of the bank management to fight corruption.

It also sought to establish the gender, age, marital status, employment status, and education status distribution of respondents. It also sought to establish the extent of unethical behaviour in relation to the demographic variables listed above.

Consequently the major hypotheses tested in the study were

H1: Gender will be positively related to unethical behaviour

H2: Age will be positively related to unethical behaviour

H3: Marital Status will be positively related to unethical behaviour

H4: Educational status will be positively related to unethical behaviour



The research design is exploratory in nature, where questionnaires were used to obtain responses from the respondents. The research activities for data collection were carried in August 2012. The choice of respondent was flexible, but they must be adult and intelligent individuals. A total of 100 questionnaires were distributed, out of which 95 were returned. There were, however, some missing data points due to few unanswered questions by respondents.

The research instrument consisted of two major parts: Section A contained 5 items that were measured using scales such as Strongly Agree(SA) to Strongly Disagree(SD); and simple yes or no in some questions while Section B contained 10 items on ethics.


The study employed percentage measures of central tendency and dispersal of the interpretation of each variable. Univariate analysis was employed to measure interaction effects among the demographic variables. A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) statistical tool was used to examine the different groups of responses that were measured on interval scales.



4.1 Results are featured in Tables 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5. As shown below:

Table 1.0 Demographic data in respect of respondents.




Gender of the respondents










Table 2: Marital Status of the respondents

Marital status















Table 3.0: Educational background of the respondents

Educational level












Total 95 100

Table 4.0: Departmental distribution of Respondents in the bank.
















Others( customers)






Table 5.0:One-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) to test for Hypotheses 1-4.

Sum of square


Mean Square



Gender Between Groups

Within Groups












Age Between Groups

Within Groups












Marital Status Between Groups

Within Groups












Educational Status Between Groups

Within Groups













An examination of table 1.0 shows that 65 % and 35% of respondents were male and female respectively. Concerning marital status, 45 % were single, 52 % married and the remaining 3.0 % were divorced respondents. The distribution of the units showed that 5.3 % were in Administration; 7.4 % were in security; 10.5% were operations staff; 2.1 % were in the transport while the remaining 74.7% were customers of the bank.

The educational qualifications of most of the respondents are such that they are educated enough and could sufficiently respond to the issues raised in the questionnaire.

The findings further shows that with respect to gender, both males and females participated, the same interpretation hold for marital status as seen in table 2. These finding shows that majority of the respondents believed that good ethical behaviour enhanced performance in one way or the other. This finding is in agreement with Epo-Ufot (1990) and Ogundele (1999) reported finding.

The level of educational attainment distribution as shown in table 3 indicated that 40% have attained secondary school certificate, tertiary and Primary educational qualifications accounted for 42 % and 18 % respectively.

Table 4.0 also shows that the respondents of the study were widely distributed across categories ranging from administrative staff; security staff; operations staff; transport staff and customers of the bank. The responses could therefore be seen as being representative of the views of majority of Nigerians.

The implications of these findings are that policies and programmes, or strategies and tactics that would be designed to change organisational member behaviour should be of three broad categories, viz: (1) Those that will discourage unethical behaviour through the processes of sanctions and reform of organisation members' behaviour, (2) those that will reward organisation member for exemplary acts of ethical behaviour, and (3) those that should focus on developing desired value behaviour in the members of the organisation through ethical re-orientation.




It should be noted that ethics has very strong link with education. In fact if education is to fulfil its purpose of catering for some aspects of societal needs, it must of necessity be involved with morality to a very high degree, otherwise it will do more harm than good to the society. This is what is happening especially in Nigeria and most other African countries.

Therefore, to be relevant and take advantage of globalization, Nigerian Organisations must teach ethics to their people at all levels. They should also ensure that ethics is practiced in all spheres of life.

The result of this study shows that good ethical behaviour is prevalent among staff of Keystone bank Nigerian. There are still some challenges in relations with staff's interaction with other part of the consumers. Lack of ethical conduct leads to unpredictable behaviour in our economic, political and other interactions with foreign organisations. This could lead to lack of attractiveness of investment opportunities to foreign investor to come to Nigerian on the one hand. On the other hand, the cost of attracting foreign investment will become higher in Nigeria vis-à-vis other parts of the world. We hereby recommend the three strategies outlined above to change the attitude of unethical behaviour to desirable ethical conduct by Nigerians and Nigerian organisations.


The promotion of good business ethics should take place in both private and public organisations and all arms of government. This is because most private organisations and government agencies in Nigeria are not properly aligned with values, moral and even convictions that build a strong, secure, healthy and prosperous nation. When nations, societies and other forms of organisations, loose their sense of purpose and significance, then confusion, frustration, discouragement, disillusionment and corporate suicide whether gradual or instant, reign (Munroe, 2001). The lack of necessary development in the society at large confirms the above assertion. Our emphasis should be on radical or revolutionary changes focusing on specific issues, institutions and structure. We cannot suggest ethical codes without addressing the structural problems that exist. It will be like the World Bank prescription of structural adjustment for Nigeria and other African countries where the structures are not in existence in the first place.

Two broad approaches are suggested here:

Reducing unethical business practices

Developing ethical behaviour and codes of ethical conduct.


Two stage approaches are suggested in this respect, which includes:

Strict Sanctions: This process calls for the imposition of severe and appropriate punishment mated out on individuals and organisations that break business and social ethics. These punishments must be rapid and decisive enough to serve as deterrent to other prospective offenders. If people are not punished for offences committed, it tends to encourage perpetration of unethical conducts. Our law enforcement agencies and legal system have major responsibilities in this aspect. Strict sanctions could be sufficient to discourage unethical conducts. In Nigeria, this was the order of the day during the Buhari/Idiagbon regime, 1983-1985. During that period with effective enforcement of sanctions against economic and social offenders, people were conscious of breaking laws, rules, regulations, etc. that were designed for the good of all.

Reward of Excellence or Outstanding Ethical Behaviour: when individuals who exhibited outstanding act of disciplined conduct such should be rewarded in status and in kind. Such gesture on the part of appropriate authorities, institutions or individuals will motivate others to be ethical in their behaviour. Oshunkeye (1991) reported that a taxi driver returned N20, 500.00 which a business woman forgot in his car to the owner. Such an outstanding act of honesty should be rewarded promptly.


This is a deep rooted approach to change the perception, values and orientation of the society in general and the operations of business organisations in particular. Three broad approaches are suggested, namely:

General development of ethical behaviour in individuals, groups and organisations.

Developing ethical codes for various professionals and adhering to such codes.

Revitalizing the culture of excellence.

General development of ethical behaviour in individuals, groups and organisations: This calls for massive training and development in Schools, Colleges, Polytechnics and Universities. At the primary and secondary school levels, a subject such as Moral philosophy should be made a compulsory subject. It is here being suggested that it should even be made one of the compulsory subjects at the school certificate level. In colleges of education, polytechnics and Universities, Ethics should be made a compulsory sub-course cutting across all the various disciplines. Education is the foundation of the development of any society. Education also kills the plight of disease, ignorance, superstition, fear and consequently poverty. Equally, organisation members (public and private) from the lowest to the highest levels should go through intensive training and development and re-training and re-development that are designed to impart ethical values. They should equally be encouraged to put such training into practice in their daily activities.

Development of ethical codes for various professionals and adhering to such codes: It is worthy to note that professional bodies e.g. medicine, accountancy, engineering, law, etc have ethical codes of conduct. The same cannot be said of business organisations or chambers of commerce and industry in Nigeria. To restore sanity into their operations and to earn respectability from the outside world and prospective foreign investors, private and public organisations in Nigeria need to fashion out codes of ethics. As reported earlier on in this paper, ethical issues are big challenges to organisations in Nigeria and as such, must be addressed seriously. A serious problem requires an equally serious solution.


I would like to thank my tutor Clive Findley for his help over the past 3 years. This assignment has encompassed some part of each and every module of the HND route and could not have been complied otherwise.

I would further like to acknowledge the help of keystones bank manager Mr Aliyu Umar and Ahmed Marafa all staffs of keystones bank for their help and support.

The Costumers of keystone bank, for providing their views and opinions