Giles, M. R., Nash, T., Greenhaw, L. L., Rampold, S. D., Hurdle, J. C. (2022). Examining ethical typologies of agriculture and natural resources leaders: A Q study. Journal of Agricultural Education, 63(3), 266-282.


This study sought to describe agriculture and natural resources (ANR) opinion leaders’ ethical orientations by illuminating how they determine what is right/wrong or good/bad when making decisions that impact the ANR industry. ANR leaders’ ethical perspectives impact decisions regarding complex critical issues and influence others’ behavior. We used Q methodology, and four typologies were revealed, including Principled, Industry-focused, Dutiful, and Multi-Hat Leaders. The methodological approach of Q methodology to identify common ethical perspectives among ANR leaders is unique. Leadership development practitioners and educators should encourage leaders to reflect on and be cognizant of their ethical beliefs, particularly when making high-stakes decisions with far-reaching implications and when representing others as industry leaders. Though each typology characterized was unique, they all relied on a combination of ethical perspectives to guide their decision making. This may be evidence of Kohlberg’s postconventional morality as leaders’ attempt to reconcile a multitude of perspectives while seeking solutions to complex problems. Ensuring ethical approaches to food and fiber production and consumption simultaneously with care for and preservation of natural resources begins with a clear understanding of leaders’ existing ethical perspectives.

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