Assessment of Ethical Values of Students and Its Impact
Assessment of ethical values of students and its impact on their work ethic Minoo Ghoreishi, Millersville University of PA Dariush Rezaei, Kent State University Abstract The purpose of this study is to assess ethical values of college students and employees. This paper examines recent occurrences in unethical activities of American corporations, evaluate students’ ethical values, and compare it to the ethical values of employees. The results of this research indicated that some students and workers underestimate selected unethical behaviors and do not perceive them as “unethical”.
This research points to the fact that undervalue of unethical activity in college lead to unethical activity at workplace.
Introduction: History of American corporations recorded corruptions in past and has been increasing. It is indicated that public confidence in the executives had declined significantly from 55 percent in 1966 to 16 percent in 1976 and even greater in the 1980’s. The observation was that corporate executives were interested in profit above public interest. Mistrust in an industry will harm participants in the industry and distrust of a single company may rapidly turn to bankruptcy. Solomon, 1994) Corporate fraud in the United States threatens the trust in business and the reliability of the American corporations.
Top managers have led companies to bankruptcy and jeopardize investment of their employees and investors for their self interest. Recent statistics indicated that American market has confronted with a major setback since World War II due to the corporate scandals that had demoralized the investor’s confidence (Investor 12). Enron was America’s largest bankruptcy in December 2001, followed by WorldCom, Global Crossing, Tyco, Arthur Andersen, Adelphia, due to their deceptive activities.
Recent incidents gave more significance to ethical behavior in the society.
Managers, employees and corporations need to be held accountable for their actions. Employees and stockholders need to be protected against poor management and a healthy economy. Consequently, there is a need to research about ethical root of American corporations and provide awareness and detect factors that lead to more ethical behavior in the society. Review of the Literature: There are evidences of the decline of honest and ethical behavior in the society.
According to a research in 2001 entitles In Search of Ethics , eighty five percent of Americans perceive that modern western culture fails to offer a sense of belonging and values. The principles of integrity and moral fiber have declined in American culture.
In a survey by Parent’s magazine, it was fond that ninety percent of Americans have lost sense of basic values and it is harder to teach traditional values to children. Students indicated that in order to be competitive for the top-rated colleges, they have to get top grades. However, students did not mind to cheat to get the higher grades.
In addition, they justify lying, cheating, and stealing as long as it is not harmful to others. It is reported that about forty percent of high school students have stolen once within twelve months period. (Marrella, 2001).
In general, there has been an increase in number of academic dishonesty reported since last decades. Table 1 summarizes this information: Table 1 Reported Academic Dishonesty YearPercentage of academic dishonesty 194123% 195238% 196049% 197055% 198075% 200091% Students’ ethical values reflect on their ethical actions at work and in their community.
In a survey of employees by the Ethics Research Center and Society for Human Research Management, thirty five to forty five percent of employees reported to have witnessed employees lied to supervisors or falsified records. Thirty percent observed theft and twenty-five percent observed the misuse of organizational assets. Employees did not report these incidents because sixty percent said that nobody cares about business ethics and over fifty percent thought they didn’t care enough about the company to reveal their identity.
Regardless of the above remarks, these employees also perceived themselves as individuals who value loyalty and courage. (Marrella, 2001). It is reported that the public expects the future of American business employees be leaders with integrity and honesty to ensure public trust. There is a vast need for improvement of the society to improve perception of leaders about ethical behavior through intensive tr5ninig. In the area of auditing, there is a need for high quality auditing which requires intensive training.
Levitt, 1998) The effects of unethical business practices on the American economy have impacts on earnings management, reporting methods for investors and accurate reporting to ensure the confidence from consumers. (Levitt, 1998) Methodology: A sample of 142 students in graduate and undergraduate level, with at least two years of experience and with at least junior status was selected. Instrument of this research was taken from a previous research conducted in Miami University in 1990 by Randi Sims. The research methods used both Internet sources and periodicals. Survey were distributed to students and asked to complete it.
Students who did not meet the research criteria were excluded and 62 respondents were included in the focus group. Three focus groups of thirty one, fifteen and sixteen members were conducted and sixty two members filled up the questionnaires and provide additional information. The survey questionnaire listed eighteen student related behaviors in first section, and work related behavior in a second section. Sample members were asked to check the behavior that occurs as student and behavior that occur as a worker. A focus group was conducted The results were tabulated and descriptive analysis was conducted.
Students answered questions in table 2 and rate the statements that described their behavior regardless of frequently of occurrence of the behavior. Table 2 Questions Concerning School Related and Work Related Dishonest Behaviors N= 62 As an undergraduate student I once (or more) … 1. Increased the margins or type face to make my term paper longer than it really was. 2. Told the instructor a false reason for missing exam / class.
3. Did less work than my share in a group project. 4. Received the questions for an exam from an unauthorized source prior to taking it. 5.
Helped another student by giving him / her questions to an exam. . Looked at another student’s paper during an exam. 7. Allowed another student to look at my paper during an exam. 8.
Asked another student to take an exam using my name. 9. Prepared cheating notes to take to class, without using them. 10. Used cheating notes during an exam. 11.
Used sources for a term paper that were not included in my bibliography. 12. Used direct quotes from other sources but did not give the proper reverence. 13. Wrote a single paper that I used for more than one class. 14.
Used someone else’s term paper for my class. 15. Purchased a term paper to turn in as my own. 16.
Wrote a paper for another student.
17. Sold a term paper to another student. Results: Students indicated that in order to be competitive for the top-rated colleges, they have to get top grades. However, students did not mind to cheat to get the higher grades. Students justify lying, cheating, and stealing as long as it is not harmful to others.
Forty five percent of employees reported to have witnessed employees lied to supervisors or falsified records. Thirty five percent (35%) of employees observed theft and thirty percent reported that they observed the misuse of organizational assets.
Sixty percent of employees reported that they did not report these incidents because nobody cares about business ethics. Fifty five percent of employees didn’t care enough about the company to reveal their identity. Regardless of the above remarks, these employees also perceived themselves as individuals who value loyalty and courage.
Table 3 shows the mean and standard deviation for each factor related to measuring ethical behavior of sample members at their workplace. Table 3 Selected Unethical Behavior at Workplace with mean over 3. 0 N=62 At work I (or someone else) have ….
Standard Meandeviation Taken money from the company. 3. 2 1.
0 Taken merchandise / equipment to be resold for profit. 5. 01. 0 Taken merchandise / equipment for my own persona use. 4. 6 .
5 Reported expenses incurred different fro m the actual total. 4. 5 . 1 Reported hours worked different from the actual total. 4.
2 . 8 Made long distance person telephone calls from work. 4. 0 . 3 Used unethical behaviors to earn promotion / gain a sale4 . 0 .
1 Taken long lunches or left early when my supervisor was not present3. 9 . 6 Withheld the total truth to covet up my mistakes. . 7 .
5 Withheld the total truth to cover up other peoples’ mistakes 3. 7 . 4 Taken office supplies for other peoples use 3. 5 . 8 Taken credit for work someone else completed.
3. 5 . 6 Given a false reason for missing work 3. 2 . 8 Note: 1 to 5.
(1 being “strongly disagreed” and 5 being “strongly agreed”) Table 4 Selected Unethical Behavior at Workplace with mean less than 3. 00 N=62 Done less than my share of work in a group project2. 9. 3 Given preferential treatment to family / friend2. 1 . 8 Completed personal business on company time.
2. 9. 3
Taken office supplies for my own personal use. 2. 2.
5 Photocopied or mailed personal papers. 1. 9. 3 Note: 1 to 5. (1 being “strongly disagreed” and 5 being “strongly agreed . Discussion: The following areas were rated strongly among students: As students, respondents indicated that “they did less share than my group”, “help another students by giving her/him the answer to exam questions”, “used cheating notes in the exams”, “used sources for term paper that was not included in the bibliography”, “purchased a term paper’, wrote a paper for another student”, and “sold a term paper to another student”.
As worker, “taken office equipment home for personal use”, “reported hours worked more than actual hours”, ” take long lunch and coffee breaks”, “taken equipment home and resold it”, “used unethical behavior to earn promotion”, ” reported expenses that was different than actual expenses”. It is clear that there is consistency in ethical behavior as “student” and as “worker”. Students justify unethical behavior in school and learn to justify unethical behavior at work. Results of underestimating unethical behavior as “student” have reflected on corporate America.