Are students from different business majors predisposed to different ethical sensitivities?

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O'Leary, Conor
Hannah, Frances
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2008
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Business graduates leave university equipped with core skills necessary to succeed in their chosen environment. One of these is an ethical perspective. Financial institutions and accounting firms are the major employers of business graduates. They assume a basic understanding of concepts when designing training for their new employees. However, business graduates are not a homogeneous group and this study examines whether the ethical sensitivities of graduates can differ depending upon their business major selected. Two groups of final year business students (270 in total), one majoring in accounting (Acc), 155 students, one in banking and finance (B&F), 115 students, were selected and their ethical attitudes tested by way of business vignettes. Even though they had received the same level of ethics training in their course, significant differences were discovered. Both individually, and when formed into groups (Acc 58 groups, B&F 57 groups), accounting majors appeared more ethical than their B&F counterparts. Also, as a cohort, accounting majors offered significantly more consistent responses. The B&F students appeared a more disparate group. As instruction level was the same, irrespective of major selected, it would appear the groups are predisposed to differing ethical attitudes to business dilemmas. The implications of this study are crucial for academics and perspective employers. Ethical training at all levels needs to be tailored specifically to the group being instructed. A standardised model of ethics training for all business students may not be effective.

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Corporate Ownership & Control

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6

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1

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© 2008 VirtusInterpress. The attached file is reproduced here in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.

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Auditing and Accountability

Accounting, Auditing and Accountability

Banking, Finance and Investment

Business and Management

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