Academic journal article Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues

Ethical Views of Chinese Business Students: A Three Year Survey of Enron's Effects

Academic journal article Journal of Legal, Ethical and Regulatory Issues

Ethical Views of Chinese Business Students: A Three Year Survey of Enron's Effects

Article excerpt


Earlier generations of business research focused exclusively on America and Western Europe. The world has changed, as the large state-run economies have crumbled and capitalism has bloomed across the globe. Business leaders in American and Europe were concerned about the ethical views within the newly capitalistic nations and their next generation of business leaders. Our research attempts to explore these views in detail.

Our current project details an exploratory three year survey of the ethical attitudes of Chinese graduate business (MBA) students. In support of this project, we will first discuss the business climate in China. Next, we will give a brief overview of the Enron controversy. We will briefly summarize the past research in this area. We will then give a description of our current research and the findings. We will then detail many of the difficulties of survey research in China, such as language barriers, cultural barriers, systemic barriers, and extreme test anxiety. We conclude with implications for further research in this area.


The new China has been described as "the modern day version of the 1849 Gold Rush" (Schwartz, 2005). China now has the second largest economy in terms of purchasing power (Zedillo, 2006). The economic growth in 2006 was the fastest level of growth in a decade (Browne, 2006b). While it seems hard to imagine, the future of China as a major economic power will only increase. By 2016, China's workforce age population will be over 1 billion (SinoCast China Business Daily News, 2007). By 2033, China's overall population will exceed 1.5 billion (Xinhua News Agency, 2007).

China's growth was not unique to recent years. China's economy has boomed, steadily growing at 9% (Cox, 2004). China's economy has doubled since 1995 (Prince, 2004). In 2003, the industrial production grew by 50% (Sway, 2004).

China's growth has been fueled by outside investment. American companies have invested $40-50 billion into manufacturing (Cox, 2004). In 2002, China surpassed America as the world's destination of foreign investment (Cox, 2004). China attracted $50-70 billion during 2003 alone (Prince, 2004). In 2004, China experienced a net flow of $10 billion a month in foreign investments (Sway, 2004). Investments in fixed assets grew 27.7% in the first quarter of 2006 (Browne, 2006a). Many new investments are related to the 2008 Olympics (Yang, 2006).

In exports, China's economy has dominated the headlines. China's trade surplus in 2006 should exceed $130 billion, breaking the record from 2005 (Browne, 2006a). China's trade surplus in 2006 grew 55% in one year (Batson, 2006). By itself, Wal-Mart is the sixth largest export market for Chinese goods with annual total of $18 billion (Elliott and Powell, 2005).

To keep up with China's business growth, their educational system has also had to expand. The number of students in higher education in China doubled from 1998 to 2001, and their numbers are rapidly approaching the total number of students in America (Ruiwen, Guoliang, and Hongxiang, 2004). The number of colleges offering an MBA in China has swelled from nine in 1991 to fifty-two in 1997 (Yijun, 2002). MBA programs in China saw a 60% increase in applications from 1999-2000 (Yan, 2002). But with China's strong economic growth, even more MBA programs are needed (Chandler et al, 2005). China will need an additional 350,000 business managers. With current MBA graduation rates, China will not produce the needed managers for 170 years (Yan, 2002).

The MBA students are not just the leaders of China's future industries, but are poised to be the leaders of the world's biggest economy in the future. Wang and Lin's (2003) survey found that 63.9% of Chinese students want to work for a foreign enterprise after graduation. Working for a foreign enterprise brings not only higher wages, but higher social status within China. …

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