Gender Variations in Ethical and Socially Responsible Considerations among Sme Entrepreneurs in Malaysia

By Ahmad, Noor Hazlina; Seet, Pi-Shen | International Journal of Business and Society, July 2010 | Go to article overview

Gender Variations in Ethical and Socially Responsible Considerations among Sme Entrepreneurs in Malaysia


Ahmad, Noor Hazlina, Seet, Pi-Shen, International Journal of Business and Society


ABSTRACT

The rise in ethics and social responsibility scrutiny has attracted a lot of debate pertaining to the prevalence of such practices in SMEs. Concomitantly, the emergence of women participation in new ventures has raised interest among the researchers to examine the gender variations in regards to ethical and social responsibility considerations in business given that there is evidence suggesting women are generally more ethical than men. The present study attempts to explore the prevalence of such practices among Malaysian SME entrepreneurs and subsequently examine the gender differences in terms of the importance placed by female and male entrepreneurs in regards to these practices. A sequential mixed-method design was employed. The first phase involved a series of interviews conducted with ten SME entrepreneurs. Subsequently, in the second phase, survey was employed whereby 212 SME entrepreneurs operating in both manufacturing and service sectors participated in the study. Descriptive statistics analysis and an independent sample t-test were conducted to generate answers to the research questions. The findings indicate that ethical and socially responsible practices were perceived important by the entrepreneurs; however, there are gender variations in regards to the magnitude of such practices in their business activities. It appears that women perceived ethics and social responsibility conducts as more important than their male counterparts in managing their business. Given such findings, future research is therefore warranted to delve into the grounds for such variations.

Keywords: Ethics, Social Responsibility, SME Entrepreneurs, Gender, Malaysia.

I. INTRODUCTION

The sudden rise in ethics and social responsibility scrutiny has attracted a lot of debate pertaining to the prevalence of such practices in SMEs. Concomitantly, the emergence of women participation in business has raised interest among the researchers to examine the gender variations in regards to ethical and social responsibility considerations in business. The question is, "Will the ethics and social responsibility considerations improve with the involvement of women in business community?" Glover et al. (2002) explicitly state that the growing representation of women in the workforce suggests that gender differences in ethics warrant further exploration since there are claims that women are more ethical than their male counterpart. Interestingly, even though some studies have found that women are more ethical than men, the findings pertaining to gender differences in regards to ethics and social responsibility considerations in SMEs remain equivocal. Hence, this study attempts to unearth the views of SME entrepreneurs in regards to ethical and socially responsible considerations and further examine if there exist gender-specific variations pertaining to this issue.

Noticeably, there has been considerable empirical work to test the prevailing issues on ethics and social responsibility in commercial landscape in large firms (see for example, Paolillo & Vitell 2002 and Vitell et al. 2003). Nevertheless, relatively little is known about SME entrepreneurs' attitudes concerning ethics and social responsibility particularly regarding how they perceive the importance of ethics and social responsibility as components of business decisions. This knowledge is imperative since, most commonly; entrepreneurs must first recognise the importance of ethics and social responsibility components in their decisionmaking processes before they actually apply them in business settings (Hunt & Vitell, 1986). This study contributes to existing research by exploring the gender-specific variations and the prevailing attitudes towards ethics and socially responsible considerations among Malaysian SME entrepreneurs.

II. LITERATURE REVIEW

Ethical and Social Responsibility Issues in Malaysian Business Landscape

Malaysia government's pledge towards promoting ethical practices are made overt it its Vision 2020, in which one of the main thrust is to create a moral and ethical society. …

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