Environmental and social crisis drives organizations to design new methods for conducting businesses. New business models ought to be designed for transforming them and increasing its ethics (Vidaver-Cohen, 1998) in order to facilitate a sustainable responsible behavior (Donaldson, 1982), including environmental strategies that goes beyond law compliance.
The aim of this paper is to present how the change in business ethics perspective for decision-making have influenced environmental strategy in organizations trough the theory of moral development.
Literature review of ethical decision-making process in business ethics and of environmental strategy in organizations specifies a comprehensive insight for analyzing the interaction between the business ethics perspective and the environmental organizational behavior. It appears in literature the concept of March about interest – accommodating alternatives for decision-making focused on goal attainment (Hickson 2012) that can be seen as a vital factor for business ethics.
In environmental strategies from organizations different approaches have occurred. Materials substitution and technological solution for diminishing environmental burden (Martinez de Anguita, 2008) as response to a regulatory approach, treat pollution for avoiding inefficiency costs develops as an economic approach, fulfills management standards and sustainable reports initiatives appears as a voluntary approach and corporate responsibility plays as an ethical approach guided by organizations principles.
Moral development theory, developed by Piaget and Kohlberg, provides a framework to analyze the stage of environmental strategy of business as result of the organizational ethics development. Moral development theory "believed that children constructed their own framework according to their sense of justice" (Dunlop, 2002). Theory contains six stages: “punishment and obedience, instrumentation, interpersonal relations, law and order orientation, social contract, and universal principles” (Marnburg, 2001).
In the first stage of moral development theory, children behavior is driven by punishment and obedience orientation. According to their age and moral development, children build criteria for assuming their acts and achieve a “morality of individual principles of conscience” (Kholberg, 1984).
Punishment and obedience orientation stage in organizations reflect a behavior to meet standards for fulfilling the law. In obedience stage, environmental strategy can be minimal and attainment to goal is focused principally on profits. Principles reasoning stage, reflects a behavior in organizations to establish agreements with peers organizations. In principles reasoning phase, environmental strategy is independently oriented and goes beyond the law. Attainment to goalin this stage is more focused on prosperity for society.
An autonomous business perspective could facilitate a progress towards the establishment of an environmental strategy that protects the environment. Study contributes to identify the heteronomous and autonomous stages of environmental strategies in organizations and open a path for future research in this subject.