updated 8/3/2006 2:43:16 PM ET 2006-08-03T18:43:16

Unethical corporate managers contribute to lower worker productivity, drive away recruits and make some employees leave, a new survey says.

Ethics is a growing concern among American workers, according to the employee survey being formally released Thursday by LRN Corp., a Los Angeles based-company that works with corporations on ethics issues.

Eighty-two percent of a group of 834 full-time employees surveyed across the country said they would work for less to be at a company that had ethical business practices, and more than a third said they have left a job because they disagreed with the actions of fellow employees or managers.

Chief Executive Dov Seidman, who founded LRN in 1994, said Wednesday the survey shows the advantages of being ethical and being a winning business.

In January, a similar survey showed 76 percent of respondents saying that how they perceived the company’s ethics would affect whether they would want to work there. In the most recent survey, 94 percent said it was either critical or important that the company they work for is ethical.

Female managers over the age of 35 living in the western and southern U.S. were most likely to say they cared deeply about ethics in the workplace.

The growing importance of ethics is reflected at the nation’s business schools. The number of schools with professors devoted to business ethics has risen to 68 in 2004 from 50 schools in 2000, said Joseph Mondello of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business.

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