Brandywine's Susan Fredricks honored for research publication

Penn State Brandywine Associate Professor of Communication Arts and Sciences Susan Fredricks has been honored for her global research, which could improve people's understanding of how individuals make ethical decisions. 

Emerald Literati Network presented Fredricks and her colleagues with the 2013 Highly Commended Paper Award for their research publication, titled "Kinship, culture and ethics in organisations: Exploring implications for internal communication."

According to its website, Emerald is a international publisher, which aims to link research and practice together, managing content from more than 130 countries worldwide. 

The paper highlights the results of a global research survey created by Fredricks and her associates, which examined students throughout the United States, New Zealand and the Czech Republic.

The scenario-style survey gauged participant's moral decision-making actions under a number of different circumstances.

Fredricks explained that the goal of their research was to "look at how we teach ethics and how we can impact students to make those ethical decisions. We never stop learning. If we can learn more about how we handle situations and why we handle them the way we do, we can deal with ethics in a more productive way."

The research discovered two major factors that impact ethical actions and stances among survey participants: the influence on people making ethics-related decisions while knowing those affected by the decision, and the cultural differences of participants. 

"The award is a validation of the research that I've done and a validation of what we've been able to accomplish," she said. "Publishing is great, but getting an award is icing on the cake."

Fredricks plans to not only continue, but also expand her research, updating the survey with new scenarios and including participants from other countries. 

"Ethics is not a one time thing ? it's a continuous, life learning process. This is just a snapshot at this particular time of how students handle [ethics]. Will things change? Absolutely."