Do International Business Professionals’ Ethical Perceptions Associate with Their Prior Education, Country, or Gender?

Journal of Business Ethics Education 14:41-68 (2017)
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Abstract

While most ethics studies use student samples, the participants in our research were 306 business professionals from Afghanistan, Germany, Philippines and the United States. Our sample included 168 male business professionals and 138 female business professionals. Our research examined whether factors such as taking a college ethics course, gender, or being from a specific country significantly associate to being sensitive to ethical dilemmas. Our data indicate that individuals who had taken an ethics course in college were more sensitive to two of our four ethical dilemmas. Our analyses indicate that business professionals from Afghanistan and Germany were consistently less sensitive to unethical activities than were the business professionals the United States. Gender was significant in only two of the four scenarios we examined; male business professionals were more likely to agree with the unethical act for these scenarios. Individuals who were more prone to responding in a socially desirable manner reported a lower likelihood of supporting unethical actions. Our research raises questions about the difference between being required to take an ethics course versus taking an elective ethics course. Finally, our research indicates that female professionals are more sensitive to minor ethical deviations than male professionals; an alternate explanation is that male professionals were more willing to accept minor ethical deviations.

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