Ethnicity, Acculturation, and Plagiarism: A Criterion Study of Unethical Academic Conduct

By Martin, Daniel E.; Rao, Asha et al. | Human Organization, Spring 2011 | Go to article overview
Save to active project

Ethnicity, Acculturation, and Plagiarism: A Criterion Study of Unethical Academic Conduct

Martin, Daniel E., Rao, Asha, Sloan, Lloyd R., Human Organization

Ethics have received increased attention from the media and academia in recent years. Most reports suggest that one form of unethical conduct-plagiarism-is on the rise in the business schools. Stereotypes of Asian students as being more prone to plagiarize are frequently found in the literature, though not concretely substantiated. This study used a behavioral criterion to examine the relationships among ethnicity, acculturation, and plagiarism in a sample of 158 undergraduate and graduate students. Significant differences in plagiarism behavior were found based on level of student acculturation, but not ethnicity. Considerations and implications for training and managing international students and workers are discussed.

Key words: Ethics, plagiarism, acculturation, ethnicity, criterion study


Given the growing media attention business ethics have received in recent years, a substantial push towards incorporating ethics courses and standards into the business education curriculum has occurred internationally. More specifically, the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) has included a requirement for business schools to include ethics components (if not courses) in curriculum to attain or receive continuing accreditation from this certifying body (Griffith 2006). While the question as to whether ethics can be learned at the undergraduate or the graduate level of education has yet to be answered, ethics classes have become standard in business schools.

Academic dishonesty comes in different forms, including providing another individual with answers to a test, providing copies of past exams and assignments to current students, or looking over another student's shoulder during a test to copy an answer. Plagiarism is a form of unethical behavior familiar to educators, administrators, and students that seems rampant in academia today. The Merriam- Webster Online Dictionary (2006) has defined plagiarism as follows: "to commit literary theft: present as new and original an idea or product derived from an existing source."

In the global arena, we find that ethics have an even greater relevance in both education and industry. Students, professors, and managers struggle to reconcile cultural differences and understand why they occur. In this study, we examine the relationships between ethnicity, acculturation, and plagiarism among university students. Our goal is to determine whether there are differences in the amount of plagiarism across ethnic groups and whether students' acculturation to western educational cultural norms affects their behavior. This study improves on prior research regarding plagiarism that has been based on self-report data by using a strong criterion variable - actual plagiarism by students. This study has implications for professors and those interacting with different ethnic groups and seeks to modify their behavior to create uniform codes of ethics, as well as programs that prepare students for study overseas.

Literature Review

Causes of Plagiarism

Prior researchers (Council of Writing Program Administrators, 2003 ; Whitley 1 998) have identified many potential reasons for plagiarizing. For example, students may not be confident of their writing skills, they may lack sufficient time to execute assignments, they may have a positive attitude towards cheating, they might anticipate rewards from success, or they may be ignorant of how to properly cite others' work. The cost of plagiarism is high because it turns professors into policing agents, ultimately costing time and effort that does not benefit the learning environment and misrepresents abusers' personal abilities (Hannabuss 2001). Research has suggested that while students understand that cheating is unethical and are exposed to the consequences of cheating in their academic careers, most acknowledge cheating at some point while in school (Davis et al. 1992).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited article

Ethnicity, Acculturation, and Plagiarism: A Criterion Study of Unethical Academic Conduct


Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?