Incongruity between Judgment and Action in Business Student Ethics: Multinational Research: An Abstract
Cheating is both a judgment and an act. Cheaters often recognize they are doing something wrong when they cheat, but they justify their acts as necessary, even good, for their purpose at hand. This multinational research on business student ethics, conducted at various universities in the American continent and in Asia, probes decisions about cheating.
Applying the theory of marketing ethics, a quasi-experimental design, and a sample of business students large enough to examine demographic and student-level differences, this research finds that business college students are fundamentally deontological (moral) in forming ethical judgments but they are either deontological or teleological (consequential) when making decisions such as rewarding or punishing acts involving such ethical or unethical behavior as cheating or plagiarizing. Students take one route to form their ethical judgments but two routes to arrive at their intentions to act. The latter means that while some students solve practical ethical problems based on ethical judgment (i.e., determined by deontological evaluations), other students (a meaningful segment of all students) do so on the basis of the consequences of actions like cheating and plagiarizing.
The results on students’ ethical orientation have important implications for understanding student ethical conduct and teaching business ethics. College students represent a population with higher levels of education than the rest of the population. The advantage is manifest in the ease with which they think and form correct ethical judgments when necessary. Despite a cognitive advantage, however, they may easily be trapped by the importance of the consequences when intending to act and when lacking the appropriate training to make ethical decisions. Accordingly, students who take the deontological route may just need reinforcement in their education, whereas students who take the teleological route urgently need ethical training in the classroom or elsewhere.
No significant differences were observed across samples taken from disparate areas of the world (the USA, Chile, Peru, and Vietnam), a fact that contributes to the strength of the theory used in this study to justify generalization and the understanding that all students are fundamentally similar in the way they form ethical judgments and the intention to act when confronted with ethical problems such as cheating or plagiarizing.
References Available Upon Request