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Determinants of Students’ Willingness to Engage in Corruption in an Academic Setting: an Empirical Study


Corruption in higher education has raised concern among governments, citizens, and the education community worldwide. However, few papers have sought to explore the students’ willingness to engage in corrupt practices at the university level. The present study aimed to examine the influence of different corrupt behaviours and perceived corruption among peers on the corrupt intention of university students. 120 undergraduate students participated in a quasi-experimental design divided in 3 treatments (control, low-corruption acceptance, high-corruption acceptance) to rate their willingness to engage in favouritism and embezzlement behaviours. Results pointed out that students were more prone to committing a non-monetary behaviour favouritism– than a monetary behaviour –embezzlement–. Furthermore, there were not significant differences between the groups of control and high-corruption acceptance; while only the group of low-corruption acceptance showed significant lower rates when compared to the control and the high-corruption acceptance’s group. Practical recommendations need to address students’ perceptions of different corrupt practices, focusing on designing ethical training programmes aimed to raise awareness on the negative consequences of non-monetary activities. Future research directions could generate empirical support to prove if students are able to recognize the underlying mechanisms of subtle corrupt practices.

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Correspondence to Martín Julián.

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Julián, M., Bonavia, T. Determinants of Students’ Willingness to Engage in Corruption in an Academic Setting: an Empirical Study. J Acad Ethics (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-020-09362-5

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  • Unethical behaviour
  • Types of corruption
  • Perceived corruption
  • Gender
  • Quasi-experimental design
  • Higher education