Peers Versus National Culture: An Analysis of Antecedents to Ethical Decision-making

Journal of Business Ethics 75 (3):239-252 (2007)
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Given the recent ethics scandals in the United States, there has been a renewed focus on understanding the antecedents to ethical decision-making in the research literature. Since ethical norms and standards of behavior are not universally consistent, an individual’s choice of referent may exert a large influence on his/her ethical decision-making. This study used a social identity theory lens to empirically examine the relative influence of the macro- and micro-level variables of national culture and peers on an individual’s intention to behave ethically. Our sample consisted of respondents from Germany, Italy, and Japan. The results indicated that both national culture and peers were found to act as significant referents in ethical decision-making dilemmas. Although peers exerted a much stronger influence on an individual’s ethical decision-making, the impact of peers varied depending on the national culture levels of individualism and power distance.



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