Russian Student Views on Business Ethics: Post-Enron

By Ludlum, M. P.; Moskaloinov, Sergey | College Student Journal, March 2005 | Go to article overview

Russian Student Views on Business Ethics: Post-Enron


Ludlum, M. P., Moskaloinov, Sergey, College Student Journal


Russian business students (n--447) were surveyed in the fall of 2002 to determine their attitudes towards business ethics. The results were then divided into several demographic groups: gender, tobacco user, stockholder, year in school, and whether the student had taken a course in business ethics. Significant differences in the demographic subgroups were discovered.

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Russia is an emerging former socialist economy, only having private businesses in the economy since the 1980s (Apressyan, 1997; Enderle, 1997; Deshpande, George, and Joseph, 2000). Ethical problems are commonplace, as the contradictory and confusing economic regulations in the emerging capitalistic economy struggle to become established (Hisrich, Bucar, and Oztark, 2003; Apressyan, 1997).

For Russian business managers, there is little guidance on ethical issues. Business ethics as a discipline is just getting started, with no journals, and few studies (Ahmed, Chung, and Eichenseher, 2003: Apressyan, 1997). There is a shortage of ethics cases and ethical theory for Russian business students (Enderle, 1997). It is dangerous to assume Russian business owners will simply follow Western notions of business ethics without any guidance (Deshpande, George, and Joseph, 2000).

Survey of Recent Literature

There has been very little research on Russian students' attitudes towards western business concepts (Ahmed, Chung, and Eichenseher, 2003; Enderle, 1997). In one of the few studies of Russian business students, Ahmed, Chung, and Eichenseher, (2003) found a negative relationship between years of education and ethical attitudes.

Recent work in the United States shows a link between unethical views during college and unethical behavior in the workforce (Nonis and Swift, 2001a; Knotts, Lopez and Mesak, 2000; Sanders, 2002; Silver and Valentine, 2000, Nonis and Swift, 2001b, Johns and Strand, 2000; Rawwas and Isakson, 2000). While these findings are preliminary, they point to the importance of this line of research. The attitudes students have now translate into behaviors they will have in the business world. Today's college students will be the next generation of business employees, owners, managers, and regulators. Reiss and Mitra (1998, p. 1581) explained, "In order to study the attitudes and behaviors of future organizational leaders one can look to current university business students." If correct, the future of Russia's views on business ethics depends on the attitudes of the current students.

The few studies on business ethics within Russia use samples of current Russian business managers rather than students. In a recent study using a variety of business scenarios, Russian business managers demonstrated very low ethical values in comparison with Turkey, Slovenia, and the United States (Hisrich, Bucar, and Oztark, 2003).

Also working with Russian business managers, Deshpande, Joseph, and Maximov (2000) found that there were strong differences in the ethical views of male and female managers in Russia, with female managers having a much stronger ethical orientation. Similar findings were made by several recent surveys of Russian managers and business workers (Stewart, Sprinthall, and Kern, 2002; Zarkada-Fraser and Fraser, 2001; Welsh, Luthans, and Sommer, 1993) and from more in depth interviews as well (Neimanis, 1997).

Method

A sample of business students were taken from classes at Ulyanovsk State University in the fall semester of 2002. Students were asked to complete a questionnaire during class time. The University has an enrollment of over 10,000 students and over 1000 faculty. The University offers over fifty degree programs for undergraduates and graduates. As a result of the classes used to draw students, all survey respondents were business majors. A complete description of demographic information is as follows:

Results

Students were asked their views on a series of seven questions of business ethics in general, and the effects of recent ethical scandals in American businesses.

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