Impact of Gender and Opportunity Recognition on Attitude to Piracy of Computer Industry Products
Okurame, David E, Ogunfowora, A S, Gender & Behaviour
Software piracy has defied punitive measures, posing threats to jobs of millions of employees and the computer industry. The study proposed an attitudinal approach to the wide-reaching problem and examines the variance explained by gender and opportunity recognition in attitude to piracy of software products. It utilized a correlational design in a survey of two hundred and forty students in an institution of higher learning located in southwestern Nigeria. Results indicate that opportunity recognition and attitudes toward software piracy have a significant positive relationship (β = .18, p < .01). Opportunity recognition accounted for 3.5 percent (p = < .01) of the variance in attitudes toward software piracy, indicating that it favourably disposes an individual to software piracy. Contrary to hypothesis, gender was not significantly related to attitudes toward software piracy (β = .06, n.s.). Practical implications of findings and future research directions are discussed.
Key words: Gender; opportunity recognition; attitudes to software piracy; computer industry; Nigeria.
Software piracy has been described as the unauthorized duplication, reuse and /or distribution of copyrighted computer programmes (Higgins, 2006; Dupin-Bryant, 2010). This includes software that is stored on hard drives, floppy disks, CD-ROMS, and the internet as well as software on personal computers (Higgins, 2006). It is a form of white-collar crime that has assumed an alarming proportion due to wide spread access to computers, mobile communication and the internet (Hagan & Kay, 1990; Motivans, 2004). An appreciation of the negative effects of software piracy on the computer industry and their employees, and the society at large has brought to the fore a need to focus on all dimensions to the problem. The government has assisted the situation by enacting laws that stipulates stiff penalties for the infringement of copyright. Organizations in the industry have licensed their software products and have engaged in enlightenment, surveillance and prosecution of violators of their copyright. In addition, some have incorporated anti-copying devices to their products, offered free auditing software to detect pirated copies and published punishment for violation of their copyright (Peace, Gallettea & Thong, 2003).
Despite the stiff penalties for infringement, piracy behaviour has continued unabated (Moinul, 2010). The ease with which software can be copied without permission has made it difficult to detect and to enforce piracy laws (Peace et al, 2003). As such, the problem has continued to hurt many software businesses costing the industry a fortune in lost revenue, diminishing incentive to sustain innovative production and causing the retrenchment of thousands of computer industry workers (Peace et al, 2003; Dupin-Bryant, 2010). The phenomenon has equally been a particularly harrowing experience for employees in the software industry: they are constantly in fear of losing their jobs - the employment of a conservative estimate of 1 million workers is threatened at every point in time. For this reason alone, software piracy should be a major source of concern to an organizational psychologist and a keen enthusiast of employee well-being and the survival of the software industry.
Although all hands appear to be on deck in solving the piracy problem, there is a dimension that seems not to be receiving the desired attention. This is attitudes to software piracy. The importance of examining software piracy attitudes is underscored by two reasons. First, and to reiterate, stiff penalties have not stopped piracy of software products (Moinul, 2010). Second, researchers (e.g. DupinBryant, 2010) have suggested that other alternative ways of preventing infringement of intellectual property should be explored to help the situation. One alternative method is to understand attitudes to software piracy (Goles, Jayatilaka, George, Parsons, Chambers, Taylor, & Brune, 2008; Phau & Ng, 2010). Piracy cannot change until attitude changes (Moinul, 2010). Again, attitude change cannot occur until concrete effort is made to understand attitude to software piracy and factors that influence its formation. The present study therefore addressed this need by examining the impact of gender and opportunity recognition on attitude to software piracy. This psychological perspective was investigated among students, a population considered by researchers as a fast growing offender group and a ready market for other categories of offenders (Moores & Chang, 2006; Moores, Nili & Rothenberger, 2009: Phau & Ng, 2010; Oz, 1990; Paradice, 1990; Solomon & O'Brien, 1990; Kievit, 1991)
Attitude is a favourable or unfavourable belief and feelings toward someone, object or event exhibited in inclinations to act in a particular manner (Zanna & Rempel, 1988; Myers, 1993). It is composed of the cognitive, affective and behavioural components which relate to define a person's attitude. For example, an individual who believes that piracy is bad (cognitive) will feel dislike for piracy (affective) and therefore will have no intention to engage in piracy behaviour (behaviour). Attitude is a strong factor in the decisionmaking process of the individual. It leads to intention to act which in turn influences whether or not the individual actualizes intention, thereby constituting the most immediate determinant of an individual's actual behaviour (O'Reilley & Caldwell, 1981; Ajzen, 2006). A number of studies on this issue have established that attitude towards to software piracy is indeed a predictor of intention to soft-lift and to actually engage in piracy behaviour (Peace et al, 2003; Liang & Yan, 2005; Ajzen, 2006; Schiffter & Ajzen, 1985; Taylor & Todd, 1995). Authors have therefore emphasized the importance of determining factors that predict attitude to software piracy and piracy intentions across situations and across cultures (Peace et al, 2003; Ajzen, 1991 1; Goles et al, 2008).
One domain of psychology which has proved potent in explaining differences in attitudinal disposition is gender. The literature suggests that gender predisposes men and women to develop different attitudinal structures. Although both sexes can be found across the divide, there is often a preponderance of men or women with positive or negative attitudes toward an issue or event. In a general sense, gender differences are based on differences in the socialization of males and females. Gender role theory explains that the behaviour of men and women are learned early in life through socialization along culturally-accepted sex roles. Before adulthood, men and women have clear ideas of socially-defined roles and responsibilities, how they should be accomplished and the consequences of non-compliance with approved habits (SSRHN, 1999). It is this role differentiation that results in peculiar patterns of values, and differences in the behaviour of men and women (Boldy, Wood & Kashy, 2001). The postulation of sex role theory is therefore, first and foremost, the reason for the linkage between gender and attitude towards software piracy. The traditional sex role project male roles as more compatible with leadership behaviour in a variety of task, including counterproductive behaviour like crime (Steffensmeier & Allan, 1996; Boldy et al, 2001; Heilman, 2001). Males are therefore generally easily socialized along such roles more than their female counterparts (Okurame, 2007).
Empirical investigations (e.g. Hinduja, 2003) in the area of software piracy have indicated that gender differences may indeed exist in software piracy. The few studies on the influence of gender on software piracy found that illegal copying of computer software is more frequent among males than females (Sims, Cheng & Teegen, 1996; Higgins, 2006). Males have also been found to be more likely than females to have received or given a copy of commercially sold "pirated software" to other people (Hollinger, 1993). The intensity for actual software piracy behaviour has also been found to differ along gender lines in favour of women (Hinduja, 2003). This pattern of results suggests that gender differences do exist in the attitude of men and women towards software piracy since it is a fore-runner of actual behaviour. Consistent with this argument, a recent study (i.e. Acilar & Aydemir, 2010) of the relationship between gender and attitudes toward software piracy established that women find software piracy less acceptable than men. Women in the study reported more ethical concerns about software piracy than men. Therefore, the present study expects that gender of respondents will have a significant relationship with attitude towards software piracy.
Opportunity recognition is traditionally a field of entrepreneurship (Baron, 2007) which refers to a cognitive process of facilitated broad information gathering and critical judgment. Decades ago, researchers (e.g. Solomon & O'Brien, 1990; Sims et al, 1996) noted that there must be something unique about people who engage in software piracy. Recently, there are pointers to the fact that opportunity recognition may be one of the unique features of software pirates. The social cognitive and self-control theories provide a guide to understanding the process through which opportunity recognition may affect attitude towards software piracy, and actual software piracy behaviour. The theories suggest that individuals have preferences for a particular course of action and are able to reflect on and regulate those preferences. According to the theories, individuals are rational decision makers who consider the potential cost and benefits of an action, and chose from alternative courses of action based on the subjective probability that a particular action will lead to a desired or expected outcome. To achieve this, they make recourse to previous and/ or expected outcomes of their actions. The theories argue further that unless an individual recognizes that a desired outcome can be reached by his or her actions, sufficient inspiration to act or persevere in it will be lacking (Bandura 2001). If a course of action is reasoned to be more pleasurable and of more benefit, it restricts self-control and the individual goes all out to execute it. On the basis of this belief, people form attitudes and stick to their intent, and think of obstacles that come their way as surmountable (Meichenbaum 1977; Sarason 1975). According to selfcontrol theorists (e.g. Gottfredson & Hirschi, 1990; Higgins & Makin, 2004), this leads to low self-control and a situation whereby crime is seen by perpetrators as a simple, easy and an immediately gratifying behaviour.
In most cases, computer users have three possible courses of action: they can purchase the original software, do without it, or illegally copy it (Peace et al, 2003). On the basis of the arguments by self-control and social cognitive theorists, an individual's conviction that an opportunity exists to gain rather than lose from software piracy encourages him or her to illegally use or copy a software product. Software products are expensive by the average man's standard, making the benefits of illegal copying outweigh purchasing an original copy that may be available (Gopal & Sanders, 2000; Cheng, Sims & Teegen, 1997; Solomon & O'Brien, 1990). Further, when the individual recognizes that this action leads to positive outcomes; it develops into a positive attitude toward software piracy which, in turn, influences further intentions /actual behaviour. This logic is particularly true in an environment where there no punishment certainty and punishment severity. Opportunity recognition involves arriving at a conclusion that negative social and legal consequences are impossible. Low probability of being caught and the knowledge that there are no social or legal consequences even if a piracy law existed, raises the level of opportunity recognition; and strengthens favourable attitude towards illegal copying of software (Moores et al, 2009; Cheng et al, 1997). This implies that people's attitude to software piracy can be explained by opportunity recognition. While some authors (e.g. Nicolaou, Shane, Cherkas & Spector, 2008) posit that differences in opportunity recognition is due to genetic factors, many more others (e.g. Gaglio ?6 Katz, 2001; Baron & Ensley, 2006; Baron & Ozgen, 2007) have argued that environmental information on consequences of software piracy, social networks, alertness and critical analysis skills are crucial. Either way, opportunity recognition affects attitudes toward software piracy, and by inference, actual piracy behaviour. Hence, the present study expects that opportunity recognition will significantly predict attitude towards software piracy.
On the strength of the foregoing review of the literature, the impact of gender and opportunity recognition on attitudes to software piracy became the focus of the present study which formulated and tested two hypotheses:
Hypothesis 1: There will be a significant relationship between gender and attitudes toward software piracy, such that males will express a more favourable attitude towards software piracy compared to their female counterparts.
Hypothesis 2: There will be a significant relationship between opportunity recognition and attitudes toward software piracy, such that the higher the level of opportunity recognition, the more favourable the attitude towards software piracy.
Results of this investigation may be used to better understand the ways in which gender and opportunity recognition can either inhibit or enhance favourable attitudes toward software piracy, with meaningful implications for attitude change intervention and policy. Therefore, through this study, it may be possible to solve the widereaching problem of software piracy.
Data for the study were collected from students of diverse course of study in an institution of higher learning located in south-western Nigeria. The respondents comprised 126 (52.5%) males and 114 (47.5%) females whose ages ranged from 16 to 36, with a mean age of 28.05 years. Their level of study varied thus: 40 students each were in 100, 200, 300 and 400 levels; 37 were in 500, 22 were in 600 levels while 21 were postgraduate students. The majority of participants single (82.1%): 17.9% were married.
Data were collected through a questionnaire that was distributed to students during lecture free periods. Participants were approached and informed about the aim, and the voluntary nature of the study. They were assured that information supplied would be held in confidence and was purely for academic research. A total of 250 questionnaires were handed out to students who were willing to take part in the study. Respondents were allowed some time to fill the questionnaire and were requested to submit the completed questionnaire to the researchers. Of the questionnaires that were returned, 240 had usable data, yielding a response rate of 96.0 percent.
Data were collected through a questionnaire containing measures of the predictor and dependent variables.
Control Variables. Demographic data were considered potential covariates in the study. Age was measured as a continuous variable while a student's level of study was coded 1 to 6 to reflect the six possible levels for undergraduate study, and 7 for postgraduate studies. Marital status was coded 0 if a respondent was single and 1 if married. To reduce error variance and maintain power, control variables that have significant inter-correlations with the dependent variable but low correlations among each other were selected for analysis (Cohen & Cohen, 1983). These criteria generated one demographic variable that was used as a covariate in the analysis: level of study.
Gender and Opportunity recognition. Gender was coded 0 if a respondent was a woman and 1 if a man. Opportunity recognition was assessed using a 5-item scale developed by Shane, Nicolaou, Cherkas & Spector (2008). The scale reflects critical aspects of the construct identified in the literature (Baron & Ozgen, 2007). Sample items include: "I generally lack ideas that may materialise into profitable enterprises" and "I enjoy thinking about new ways of doing things". The authors reported a coefficient alpha reliability estimate of .72 among students and significant construct validity for the scale. Using a five-point scale ranging from 1 (strongly disagree) to 5 (strongly agree) - reversed for negative items, a Cronbach alpha of .77 was established for the measure in this study. High scores signify high levels of opportunity recognition.
Attitude towards software piracy. This variable was assessed by an attitude towards software piracy scale developed by Rahim, Seyal & Rahman (2001). The 11 -item scale is a self-report measure of the extent to which a student is favourably disposed to software piracy. Sample items include: "I see nothing wrong in giving my friends copies of my software for them to use", "I see nothing wrong in using pirated software if it is needed to do well", and "I think pirated software helps monetary savings". The author reported a coefficient alpha reliability estimate of .88 and significant construct validity for the scale. In the current study, the coefficient alpha for the attitude scale was .85. The measure was rated on a five-point scale ranging from strongly disagree (1) to strongly agree (5). High scores indicate a favourable attitude towards software piracy, while low scores indicate an unfavourable attitude towards software piracy.
All demographic data were considered potential covariates in the study. To reduce error variance and maintain power, control variables that have significant inter-correlations with the dependent variable but low correlations among each other were selected for analysis (Cohen 8c Cohen, 1983). Inter-correlations among all the variables of the study which served as the preliminary analysis reveal that level of study (r = .13, P < .05) was the only variable with significant relationship with the dependent variable - all other potential covariates were not related to the independent or dependent variables. Consequently, level of study was selected as covariate for analysis. Table 1 presents the descriptive statistics and intercorrelations among covariate, predictor and dependent variables.
Statistical analysis to establish the unique impact of gender and opportunity recognition on attitudes toward software piracy was carried out using hierarchical regression analysis. Table 2 presents the results of this analysis. Study variables were entered into the regression equation in three steps. Covariate in the research was entered in the first step, followed by gender in the second step and opportunity recognition in the third step. Results in Table 2 revealed that level of study which served as the control variable was significantly and positively related to attitudes toward software piracy (β = .13, p < .05). As shown in Table 2, the control variable accounted for a significant variance in attitude towards software piracy (R^sup 2^ = .11, p < .001), explaining 1.9 percent (p = < .05) of the variance in attitudes to software piracy in the second step.
Hypothesis 1, which predicted that there will be a significant relationship between gender and attitudes towards software piracy, such that males will express a more favourable attitude to software piracy, was not supported. The second step of the hierarchical analysis was not significant (? = .06, ?. s.). Hence, hypothesis 1 was not supported. Further statistical analysis using the t-test was carried out to compare the mean scores of men and women on attitude towards software piracy. Results revealed no significant differences, t = 0.851, n.s. (results not presented in table).
Hypothesis 2, which stated that there will be a significant relationship between opportunity recognition and attitudes toward software piracy, such that the higher the level of opportunity recognition, the more favourable the attitude, was supported. The third step of the hierarchical regression analysis which tested this hypothesis was positively significant (? = .18, ? < .01), indicating that the higher the level of opportunity recognition, the more favourable the attitude towards software piracy. This analysis also revealed that opportunity recognition accounted for an additional 3.5 percent (p = < .01) of the variance in attitudes toward software piracy when it was entered in the final step.
As noted in the introductory section, software piracy has defied punitive measures, posing threats to jobs of millions of employees and the computer industry. Though, researchers (e.g. Dupin-Bryant, 2010) have suggested that other alternative ways of preventing infringement of intellectual property such as examining attitudes towards software piracy and factors that affect it should be explored, (Goles et al, 2008; Phau 8c Ng, 2010; Moinul, 2010; Dupin-Bryant, 2010), little research attention has been devoted to this area. Hence, the present study examined the impact of gender and opportunity recognition on attitude to software piracy among students, a population considered by researchers as a fast growing offender group and a ready market for other categories of offenders (Moores 8c Chang, 2006; Moores et al, 2009: Phau 8c Ng, 2010; Oz, 1990; Paradice, 1990; Solomon 8c O'Brien, 1990; Kievit, 1991). The study made useful theoretical contributions to the literature by establishing a significant positive relationship between opportunity recognition and attitudes toward software piracy; laying a foundation for the supposition that opportunity recognition is a negative factor in attitudes toward software piracy. It also found that gender is not a significant predictor of attitudes toward software piracy.
The significant positive impact of opportunity recognition on attitudes toward software piracy implies that when an individual has a high level of opportunity recognition, they are favourably disposed towards software piracy. By implication, it further means that such individuals are more likely to engage in actual software piracy. The present result is in congruence with previous findings in the literature. Prior studies have found that opportunity recognition affect software piracy behaviour (Cheng et al, 1997; Baron, 2007; Moores et al, 2009). The present result finds explanation in the theoretical foundation for the study. It is posited that individuals with high levels of opportunity recognition have convictions that an opportunity exists to gain in software piracy. This makes them to devote time to picking pieces of information about the situation together and to become creative in structuring ways around copyrighted software (Baron, 2007). Because these actions often lead to positive outcomes due to the challenges of prosecuting software copyright infringement, they develop feelings and beliefs that their action is acceptable and within ethical confines.
The non-significant influence of gender on attitudes toward software piracy implies that being a male or a female does not significantly alter an individual's attitudes toward software piracy. This finding contradicts the position of gender role theory that men and women differ in their disposition and behaviour because of role differentiation. Some prior studies in the area of software piracy have supported the postulations of the gender role theory. For example, Sims et al, 1996) found that males copied illegally more frequently than females. The non-significant relationship between gender and attitude towards software piracy in this study means that gender in the present population is not a crucial factor for determining attitude towards software piracy.
Practical implications of study
The findings of this study are of particular relevance to organisations in the software industry and government agencies that may seek to address the problem of software piracy. First, results show that the higher an individuals level of opportunity recognition, the more favourable their attitudes toward software piracy. The practical implication of this is that altering an individual's level of opportunity recognition downward can produce less favourable attitudes toward software piracy. A less favourable attitude, in turn, reduces the likelihood that the individual will engage in actual software piracy behaviour. Management can reduce the level of opportunity recognition by strengthening punitive measures so that the risk of embarking on software piracy becomes visible to everybody. They could also devise other methods that will make the cost-benefit analysis of engaging in software piracy unfavourable for people. Second, the findings show that being a man or a woman is not a useful means for assessing differences attitudes toward software piracy. This implies that management and government agencies will have to focus on both sexes in any intervention designed to solve the software piracy problem.
Implications of findings for future research
The present study examined the impact of gender and opportunity recognition on attitudes toward software piracy, and found that opportunity recognition is a significant factor. Future studies should examine how this variable relates with actual software piracy behaviour. A research focused on the specific process through which opportunity recognition affect attitudes toward software piracy and actual software piracy behaviour is equally necessary. Future studies should also incorporate attitude strength since the literature suggests that this may be crucial for implementing attitude intentions.
The present study is exploratory; further studies are required to confirm findings in this study. Finally, findings in the present study are based on responses obtained from students. Although, the use of students to investigate software piracy in this study is consistent with the practice in the literature, future studies should examine relationship between these variables among other categories of potential offenders.
Limitations of study
Caution should be exercised in the interpretation of results because of a number of limitations. Data for the study were based on selfreported measures, suggesting that some under/ over reporting by respondents may have occurred. Second, the study does not imply that variance in attitudes toward software piracy is totally accounted for by opportunity recognition. Indeed, opportunity recognition accounted for only 3.5 percent of the variance in attitudes toward software piracy. Other factors not examined in this study may therefore be more important for explaining attitudes toward software piracy. Third, this study is exploratory; therefore data from students may not typify software piracy attitudes in general. Additional studies with other relevant population are warranted.
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David E. Okurame & A. S. Ogunfowora
Department of Psychology, University of Ibadan, Ibadan.
* Correspondence to: David E. Okurame, Ph.D., Department of Psychology, Faculty of the Social Sciences, University of Ibadan, Ibadan-Nigeria. E-mail: daveokurame(5jyahoo .com Tel: 08023209153…
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Publication information: Article title: Impact of Gender and Opportunity Recognition on Attitude to Piracy of Computer Industry Products. Contributors: Okurame, David E - Author, Ogunfowora, A S - Author. Journal title: Gender & Behaviour. Volume: 9. Issue: 1 Publication date: June 2011. Page number: 3419+. © IFE Centre for Psychological Studies Dec 2009. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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