Since 1994, the Ethics Resource Center has fielded the National Business Ethics Survey® (NBES), a nationally representative survey of employees at all levels, to understand how they view ethics and compliance at work. This 2011 report is the seventh in the series.
NBES is the most exacting longitudinal research effort examining trends in business ethics from the employee perspective. The long-term nature of the study is important because it provides context for national trends. NBES is the only longitudinal study that tracks the views of employees at all levels within companies to reveal real-life views of what is happening within businesses and the ethics risks they face.
Over the years, ERC has polled and reported findings on more than 21,000 employees through this research. In 2011, 4,800 responses were collected. Review of the data revealed that 117 respondents worked in the government sector. These cases were removed from all analysis, meaning that 4,683 responses were from employees in the for-profit sector.
Participants in the 2011 NBES were 18 years of age or older; currently employed at least 20 hours per week for their primary employer; and working for a company that employs at least two people. They were randomly selected to attain a representative national distribution. One-third of all participants were interviewed by telephone (over a land line (75 percent of phone sample) or cellular phone (25 percent of phone sample)), and two-thirds participated through an online survey (using online panels and communities). The proportions of the telephone and online groups in the sample were weighted to be equal1. All participants were assured that their individual responses to survey questions would be confidential.
The survey opened September 15, 2011 and closed September 29, 2011.
Survey questions and sampling methodology were established by ERC; data collection was managed by Survey Sampling International (SSI). Analysis by ERC was based upon a framework provided by the Federal Sentencing Guidelines for Organizations; the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002; and professional experience in defining elements of formal programs, ethical culture, risk, and outcomes.
The sampling error of the findings presented in this report is +/- 1.4 percent at the 95 percent confidence level.
In all survey years, except 2009, data were weighted by age, gender and education. Results for 2011 and years prior to 2009 are reported according to all three weighting factors. In 2009, information about education was not available and survey data were weighted by age and gender only.