Shaping ethical perceptions: An empirical assessment of the influence of business education, culture, and demographic factors [Book Review]

Journal of Business Ethics 60 (4):341 - 358 (2005)
Recent events at Enron, K-Mart, Adelphia, and Tyson would seem to suggest that managers are still experiencing ethical lapses. These lapses are somewhat surprising and disappointing given the heightened focus on ethical considerations within business contexts during the past decade. This study is designed, therefore, to increase our understanding of the forces that shape ethical perceptions by considering the effects of business school education as well as a number of other individual-level factors (such as intra-national culture, area of specialization within business, and gender) that may exert an influence on ethical perceptions. We found significant effects for business education, self-reported intra-national culture, area of specialization within business, and gender for some and/or all areas of ethics examined (i.e., deceit, fraud, self-interest, influence dealing, and coercion). One of our most encouraging findings is that tolerance for unethical behavior appears to decrease with formal business education. Despite the prevalent stereotype that business students are only interested in the bottom line or that business schools transform idealistic freshman into self-serving business graduates, our results suggest otherwise. Given the heightened criticism of the ethicality of contemporary managerial behavior, it is heartening to note that, even as adults, individuals can be positively affected by integration of ethics training.
Keywords culture  ethics education  ethical perceptions
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