Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 80, Issue 3, pp 447–463 | Cite as

The Effects of Commitment to Moral Self-improvement and Religiosity on Ethics of Business Students

  • Lada V. Kurpis
  • Mirjeta S. Beqiri
  • James G. Helgeson


Using survey methodology we examined the relationships between commitment to moral self-improvement (CMSI), religiosity, ethical problem recognition, and behavioral intentions in a sample of 242 business students. Results of the study suggest that CMSI predicts ethical problem recognition and behavioral intentions. Our findings also suggest that CMSI is positively related to religiosity. The study provides some evidence of CMSI being a mediator in the influence of religiosity on ethical problem recognition and behavioral intentions. Compared to religiosity, CMSI turned out to be a better predictor of perceived importance of ethics, ethical problem recognition, and ethical behavioral intentions. The results of the study have implications for increasing understanding of ethical decision-making, future studies of business ethics, and business ethics education.


business ethics commitment ethical behavioral intentions ethical problem recognition moral improvement perceived importance of ethics religiosity 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Allport G. W., J. M. Ross 1967, Personal Religious Orientation and Prejudice. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 5(4): 432–443CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Angelidis J., N. Ibrahim 2004, An Exploratory Study of the Impact of Degree of Religiousness Upon an Individual’s Corporate Social Responsiveness Orientation. Journal of Business Ethics 51(2): 119–128CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Aquino K., A. Reed II 2002, The Self-Importance of Moral Identity. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 83(6):1423–1440CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bagozzi R. P. 1994, Measurement in Marketing Research: Basic Principles of Questionnaire Design. In: Bagozzi R. P. (ed) Principles of Marketing Research: Basic Principles of Questionnaire Construction. Blackwell, Cambridge, MA, pp. 1–49Google Scholar
  5. Baron R. M., D. A. Kenny 1986, The Moderator-Mediator Variable Distinction in Social Psychological Research: Conceptual, Strategic, and Statistical Considerations. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 51(6): 1173–1182CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Becker H. S. 1960, Notes on the Concept of Commitment. The American Journal of Sociology 66(1): 32–40CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Blasi A. 1983, Moral Understanding and Moral Personality: The Process of Moral Integration. In: Kurtines W. M., Gewirtz J. L. (eds) Moral Development: An Introduction. Allyn and Bacon, Needham Heights, NJ, pp. 229–253Google Scholar
  8. Blasi A. 1995, Moral Cognition and Moral Action: A Theoretical Perspective. Developmental Review 3:178–210CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Blasi A. 2004, Moral Functioning, Moral Understanding and Personality. In: Lapsley D. K., Narvaez D. (eds) Moral Development, Self, and Identity. Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJ, pp. 189–212Google Scholar
  10. Burke P. J., D. C. Reitzes 1991, An Identity Theory Approach to Commitment. Social Psychology Quarterly 54(3):239–251CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Business Week 2003, ‹MBAs Need More than Ethics 101: Reader Survey Results’, January 21, 2003Google Scholar
  12. Carmody D. L., J. T. Carmody 1988, How to Live Well: Ethics in the World Religions. Wadsworth, Belmont, CAGoogle Scholar
  13. Churchill G. A. 1979, A Paradigm for Developing Better Measures of Marketing Constructs. Journal of Marketing Research 16(February):64–73CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Colby A., W. Damon 1992, Some Do Care: Contemporary Lives of Moral Commitment. Free Press, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  15. Colby, A., L. Kohlberg, B. Speicher, A. Hewer, D. Candee, J. Gobbs, and C. Power: 1987, The Measurement of Moral Judgment: Standard Issues Scoring Manual, V.II (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, MA)Google Scholar
  16. Conroy S. J., T. L. N. Emerson 2004, Business Ethics and Religion: Religiosity as a Predictor of Ethical Awareness among Students. Journal of Business Ethics 50(4):383–391CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Donahue M. J. 1985, Intrinsic and Extrinsic Religiousness: Review and Meta-Analysis. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 48:400–419CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Dornoff R. J., C. B. Tankersley 1975, Perceptual Differences in Market Transactions – A Source of Consumer Frustration. Journal of Consumer Affairs 9(1):97–103CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Fasching D. J., D. Dechant 2001, Comparative Religious Ethics: A Narrative Approach. Blackwell, Oxford, UKGoogle Scholar
  20. Ferrell O. C., L. G. Gresham 1985, A Contingency Framework for Understanding Ethical Decision Making in Marketing. Journal of Marketing 49(Summer):87–96CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Glass G. V., K. D. Hopkins 1996, Statistical Methods in Education and Psychology. Allyn and Bacon, Boston, MAGoogle Scholar
  22. Hardy S. A., G. Carlo 2005, Identity as a Source of Moral Motivation. Human Development 48: 232–256CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Hart D. 2005, The Development of Moral Identity. Nebraska Symposium on Motivation 51: 165–196Google Scholar
  24. Hart D., R. Atkins, D. Ford 1998, Urban America as a Context for the Development of Moral Identity in Adolescence. Journal of Social Issues 54:513–530CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hood R. W. Jr., B. Spilka, B. Hunsberger, R. Gorsuch 1996, The Psychology of Religion: An Empirical Approach. Guilford Press, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  26. Hunt S. D., D. A. Laverie 2004, Experiential Learning and the Hunt–Vitell Theory of Ethics: Teaching Marketing Ethics by Integrating Theory and Practice. Marketing Education Review 14(3):1–14Google Scholar
  27. Hunt S. D., S. J. Vitell 1986, A General Theory of Marketing Ethics. Journal of Macromarketing 6(Spring):5–15CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Iniesta M. A., M. Sanchez 2002, Retail-Consumer Commitment and Market Segmentation. The International Review of Retail Distribution and Consumer Research 12(3):261–279CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Ishida C. 2006, How do Scores of DIT and MJT Differ? A Critical Assessment of the Use of Alternative Moral Development Scales in Studies of Business Ethics. Journal of Business Ethics 67:63–74CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Kanter R. M. 1968, Commitment and Social Organization: A Study of Commitment Mechanisms in Utopian Communities. American Sociological Review 33(4):499–517CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Kennedy E. J., L. Lawton 1998, Religiousness and Business Ethics. Journal of Business Ethics 17(2):163–175CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Knotts T. L., T. B. Lopez, H. I. Mesak 2000, Ethical Judgments of College Students: An Empirical Analysis. Journal of Education for Business 75(3):158–163CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kohlberg L. 1981, Essays on Moral Development: The Philosophy of Moral Development. Harper and Row Publishers, San Francisco, CAGoogle Scholar
  34. Kohlberg L., D. Candee 1984, The Relationship of Moral Judgment to Moral Action. In: Kurtines W. M., J. L. Gewirtz (eds) Morality, Moral Behavior, and Moral Development. Wiley, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  35. Krebs D. L., K. Denton 2005, Toward a More Pragmatic Approach to Morality: A Critical Evaluation of Kohlberg’s Model. Psychological Review 112(3):629–649CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Küng H. 1990, Toward a world ethic of world religions. In: Küng H., Moltmann J. (eds) The Ethics of World Religions and Human Rights. Trinity Press International, Philadelphia, PA, pp. 102–119Google Scholar
  37. La Barbera P. A., Z. Gürhan 1997, The Role of Materialism, Religiosity, and Demographics in Subjective Well-Being. Psychology and Marketing 14(1):71–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. Lapsley D. K., D. Narvaez 2004, A Social-Cognitive Approach to the Moral Personality. In: D. K. Lapsley, D. Narvaez (eds.) Moral Development, Self, and Identity. Erlbaum, Mahwah, NJGoogle Scholar
  39. Longenecker J. G., J. A. McKinney, C. W. Moore 2004, Religious Intensity, Evangelical Christianity, and Business Ethics: An Empirical Study. Journal of Business Ethics 55: 373–386CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. MacKinnon D. P., A. J. Fairchild, M. S. Fritz 2007, Mediation Analysis. Annual Review of Psychology 58(17):1–22Google Scholar
  41. Marnburg E. 2003, Educational Impacts on Academic Business Practicioner’s Moral Reasoning and Behavior: Effects of Short Courses in Ethics or Philosophy. Business Ethics: A European Review 12(4):403–413CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Matsuba M. K., L. J. Walker (2004) Extraordinary Moral Commitment: Young Adults Involved in Social Organizations. Journal of Personality 72:413–436CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. McAlister D. T. 2004, Building Ethical Capacity in Business Schools. Marketing Education Review 14(3):55–62Google Scholar
  44. McCall G. J., J. L. Simmons 1966, Identities and Interactions. Free Press, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  45. Monroe K. R. 2001, Morality and a Sense of Self: The Importance of Identity and Categorization for Moral Action. American Journal of Political Science 45:413–436CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Narvaez D. 1997, The Neo-Kohlbergian Tradition and Beyond: Schemas, Expertise, and Character. Nebraska Symposium on Motivation 45:119–163Google Scholar
  47. Nunnally J. C. 1967, Psychometric Theory. McGraw-Hill, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  48. Piaget J. 1932, The Moral Judgment of the Child. Collier, New York, NYGoogle Scholar
  49. Puka B. 2002, The DIT and the ‹Dark Side’ of Development. Journal of Moral Education 31(3): 339–352CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Rest J. R. 1979, Development in Judging Moral Issues. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MNGoogle Scholar
  51. Rest J., D. Narvaez, M. J. Bebeau, S. J. Thoma 1999, Postconventional Moral Thinking: A Neo-Kohlbergian Approach. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Mahwa, NJGoogle Scholar
  52. Sapp G. L., L. Jones 1986, Religious Orientation and Moral Judgment. Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion 25(2): 208–214CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Serpe R. T. 1987, Stability and Change in Self: A Structural Symbolic Interactionist Explanation. Social Psychology Quarterly 50(1): 44–55CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  54. Singhapakdi A., J. K. Marta 2005, Comparing Marketing Students with Practitioners on Some Key Variables of Ethical Problems. Marketing Education Review 15(3): 13–25Google Scholar
  55. Singhapakdi A., J. K. Marta, K. C. Rallapalli, C. P. Rao 2000, Toward an Understanding of Religiousness and Marketing Ethics: An Empirical Study. Journal of Business Ethics 27(4): 305–319CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  56. Singhapakdi A., S. J. Vitell, K. C. Rallapalli, K. L. Kraft 1996, The Perceived Role of Ethics and Social Responsibility: A Scale Development. Journal of Business Ethics 15(11): 1131–1140CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Stryker S. 1968, Identity Salience and Role Performance: The Relevance of Symbolic Interaction Theory for Family Research. Journal of Marriage and the Family 30(4):558–564CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Stryker S. 1980, Symbolic Interactionism: A Social Structural Version. Benjamin/Cummings, Menlo Park, CAGoogle Scholar
  59. Walker L. J., R. C. Pitts 1998, Naturalistic Conceptions of Moral Maturity. Developmental Psychology, 34: 403–419CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Wanous J. P., Reichers A. E., M. J. Hudy 1997, Overall Job Satisfaction: How Good Are Single-Item Measures? Journal of Applied Psychology 82(2): 247–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Weaver G. R., B. R. Agle 2002, Religiosity and Ethical Behavior in Organizations: A Symbolic Interactionist Perspective. Academy of Management Review 27(1): 77–97CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  62. Zinbarg E. D. 2005, Faith, Morals, and Money: What the World Religions Tell us about Ethics in the Marketplace. Continuum, New York, NYGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lada V. Kurpis
    • 1
  • Mirjeta S. Beqiri
    • 1
  • James G. Helgeson
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Business AdministrationGonzaga UniversitySpokaneU.S.A.

Personalised recommendations