Socially Responsible Future Businesspeople: Is There a Road Map?

By Karassavidou, Eleonora; Glaveli, Niki | Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

Socially Responsible Future Businesspeople: Is There a Road Map?


Karassavidou, Eleonora, Glaveli, Niki, Forum on Public Policy: A Journal of the Oxford Round Table


Introduction

Criticism has been always surrounded business schools, focusing mainly on their weakness to address the 'gap' between what the market actually requires, in terms of knowledge, skills, and capabilities and those provided to business school graduates. Additionally, in a time of ethical lapses, moral and values ambiguity, insensitivity of the free market economy and scandals related to greed and unethical behaviours on the part of the companies, business schools, as the main source of future businesspeople, are further blamed for much of the unethical behaviours in the business world (Pizzolatto and Bevill 1996). Therefore today, business schools are under pressure to develop a strong sense of socially responsible management amongst their graduates and reconsider their role as a moral force in preparing future businesspeople, capable of ethical judgment and behaviours.

The increasing interest in business students' ethical judgment, intentions and behaviours both in the university and in the work environment is expressed in several studies. Indeed, recent research in the field uncovered that business students are more likely to engage in academic dishonesty than their non-business peers (Baird 1980; McCabe and Trevino 1993). For example, a survey of 15,000 students of different faculties of the top US universities indicated that business students provided the highest cheating rate (Meade, 1992). Further, it seems that business students tend to believe that they need unethical behaviour in order to successfully complete their degrees (Lane and Schaupp 1989).

On the hand, students' beliefs and values, and consequently their ethical judgment intentions and behaviours are strongly affected by the environmental context in which they grow up but also by situational factors. Different countries and geographic regions and companies, develop varying ethical values, principles, norms and individuals' ethical orientations. These differences are likely to result in ethical gaps. For example Tsalikis and La Tour (1995) found that Americans responded to bribery cases more ethically than people from Greece.

Considering the above theoretical discussion and the research findings it is obvious that the formation of ethical values, ethical judgment, intentions and behaviours among business students is a very complicated issue. Thus, a crucial need for the development of holistic approaches to map and get a deeper understanding regarding the ethical orientations of future businesspeople, not only within the university but also in the contemporary workplace, is revealed. Consistent to this rational, the purpose of the present paper is to approach and examine, in a systematic way, factors related to ethical judgment, intentions and behaviours of business students, the future businesspeople. The major raised, questions seem to be: Do business students' values, beliefs, principals and norms (an Internalised code of Ethics-ICE) influence students' ethical judgement, intentions and behaviours and if yes, to what extent? Are business students' academic dishonest attitudes and behaviours an isolated phenomenon unrelated to their ethical judgement in the workplace? If not, do business schools have any proactive role to play as a moral force in reinforcing students' ICE and preparing graduates for ethical judgement, intentions and behaviours in the university but also in the business world? If they have such a role, how strong will be business schools' influence and which are the perspectives, in terms of graduates' ethical resistance, when they will enter the contemporary workplace? Finally, does students' negative world view (Anomia) has any influence on the above variables?

The paper begins with a brief review of the relevant literature. Then it proceeds to develop a conceptual framework representing the suggested hypotheses, presents the research methods used for data collections, tests the advanced hypotheses, analyses the results, discusses implications and raises issues for further research. …

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