Understanding the Ethics of Future Business Leaders

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Editor’s note: we are pleased to welcome Richard C. Hanna of Northeastern University, Victoria L. Crittenden of Boston College, and William F. Crittenden of Northeastern University, whose paper “Social Learning Theory: A Multicultural Study of Influences on Ethical Behavior” is forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing Education and now available online.

Understanding what drives cheating and unethical behavior is critical to creating positive change for both the education and business world. Hence, given our role as teachers in business education, we were naturally drawn to this topic immediately.Additionally, having the opportunity to work with a large data set representing countries from all over the world could not be passed up.

JME(D)_72ppiRGB_150pixwOur data suggests that social environments, especially managers/leaders, play a major role influencing unethical behaviors and it is not simply a function of capitalistic motivations. Indeed, our research shows that in most cultures, an individual’s manager/leader sets the tone for unethical behavior in addition to environmental culture that the “end justifies the means.”

Businesses and educational institutions globally should consider the implications of these findings when considering who they choose as leaders within their organizations and how they establish rewards and incentives.

Read the article in the OnlineFirst section of the Journal of Marketing Education, and click here if you are interested in receiving e-alerts from the journal.

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