Attitudes of management students towards workplace ethics: A comparative study between South Africa and Cyprus

  • AdeÌ€le Thomas Department of Business Management, University of Johannesburg
  • Maria Krambia- Kapardis
  • Anastasios Zopiatis
Keywords: South Africa, Cyprus, ethics, management, culture, quantitative survey


In order to understand attitudes towards work- related ethics and the teaching of business ethics in management programmes at universities, a survey was conducted with management students at two universities, one in the Republic of Cyprus (hereafter referred to as Cyprus) and the other in the Republic of South Africa (hereafter referred to as South Africa). An attempt was also made to investigate whether such differences, if any, were linked to differences in national culture. The findings indicate that no significant differences between the two samples exist on four of the five dimensions of national culture (Hofstede, 1994) and, accordingly, differences in attitudes towards workplace ethical issues cannot be said to be linked to this variable. Significant differences were found between the two samples on certain questionnaire items that related to workplace practices with the Cypriot sample, more so than the South African sample, appearing to be willing to engage in certain workplace practices that would be deemed unethical in society. It is recommended that ethics education be integral to a business curriculum and that teaching methodologies explore ways in which to develop moral reasoning in students. 


Abratt, R., Nel, D. & Higgs, N.S. (1992). ‘An examination of the ethical beliefs of managers using selected scenarios in a cross-cultural environment’. Journal of Business Ethics, 11, 29-35.

Adkins, N. & Radtke, R.R. (2004). ‘Student and faculty members’ perception of the importance of business ethics and accounting ethics education: Is there an expectation gap?’ Journal of Business Ethics, 51(3), 279-300.

Ahmed, M.M., Chung, K.Y. & Eichenseher, J.w. (2003). Business students’ perception of ethics and moral judgment: A cross-cultural study. Journal of Business Ethics, 43(1/2), 89-102.

Alderson, S. & Kakabadse, A. (1994). ‘Business ethics and

Irish management: A cross-cultural study’. European

Management Journal, 42(12), 432-441.

Allmon, D.E., Page, D. & Roberts, R. (2000). ‘Determinants of

perceptions of cheating: Ethical orientation, personality, and demographics’. Journal of Business Ethics, 23(4), 411- 422.

Amalric, F. & Hauser, J. (2005). ‘Economic drivers of corporate responsibility activites’. The Journal of Corporate Citizenship, winter (20), 27-38.

Appelbaum, S.H. (2005). ‘The creation of an unethical work environment: Organisational outcome-based control systems’. Equal Opportunities International, 24(2), 67-83.

Aqueveque, C. (2005). ‘Marketing and market development: Signalling corporate values – consumers’ suspicious minds’. Corporate Governance, 5(3), 467-479.

Armstrong, R.w. (1996). ‘The relationship between culture and perception of ethical problems in international marketing’. Journal of Business Ethics, 15, 1199-1208.

Armstrong, R.w. & Sweeney, J. (1994). ‘Industry, type, mode of entry and perceptions of international marketing ethics problems: A cross-culture comparison’. Journal of Business Ethics, 13(10), 775-785.

Axinn, C., Blair, M.E., Heorhiadi, A. & Thach, S.V. (2005). ‘Comparing ethical ideologies across cultures’. Journal of Business Ethics, 54 (2), 103-120.

Bernardi, R.A., Giuliano, J.L., Komatsu, E., Potter, B.M. & Yamamoto, S. (2004). ‘Contrasting the cheating behaviors of college students from the United States and Japan’. Global Virtue Ethics Review, 5(4), 5-31.

Bok, D. (1990). Universities and the future of America. Durham NC: Duke University Press.

Born, A.D. (2003). ‘How to reduce plagiarism’. Journal of Information Systems Education, 14(3), 223-224.

Brimble, M. & Stevenson-Clarke, P. (2005). ‘Perceptions of the prevalence and seriousness of academic dishonesty in Australian universities’. Australian Educational Researcher, 32(3), 19-44.

Byerly, R.T., Dave, D. & Medlin, B.B.D. (2002). ‘Ethics in business program curricula: An empirical investigation of the attitudes and perceptions of United States students’. International Journal of Management, 19(2), 357-365.

Cabral-Cardosa, C. (2004). ‘Ethical misconduct in the business school: A case of plagiarism that turned bitter’. Journal of Business Ethics, 49, 75-89.

Casado, M., Miller, w. & Vallen, G. (1994). ‘Ethical challenges of the industry: Are graduates prepared?’ FIU Hospitality Review, 12(1), 1-7.

Christies, P.M.J., Kwon, I.G., Stoeberl, P.A. & Bauhart, R. (2003). ‘A cross-cultural comparison of ethical attitudes of business managers: India, Korea and the United States’. Journal of Business Ethics, 46(3), 263-288.

Collins, D. (2000). ‘The quest to improve the human condition: The first 1500 articles published in the Journal of Business Ethics’. Journal of Business Ethics, 26(1), 1-73.

Conroy, S. & Emerson, T. (2004). ‘Business education and religion: Religiosity as a predictor of ethical awareness among students’. Journal of Business Ethics, 50, 383-396.

Cowton, C.J. & Cummins, J. (2003). ‘Teaching business ethics in UK higher education: Progress and prospects’. Teaching Business Ethics, 7, 37-54.

Crane, F.G. (2004). ‘The teaching of business ethics: An imperative at business schools’. Journal of Education for Business, 79(3), 149-151.

Curren M.T. & Harich, K.R. (1996). ‘Business ethics: A comparison of business and humanities students and faculty’. Journal of Education for Business, 72 (1), 9-11.

Dawson, L.M. (1997). ‘Ethical differences between men and women in the sales profession’. Journal of Business Ethics, 16, 1143-1152.

Deshpande, S.P. (1997). ‘Managers’ perceptions of proper ethical conduct: The effect of sex, age, and level of education’. Journal of Business Ethics, 16(1), 79-85.

Droussiotis, A. (2003). ‘who are we on the way to the EU? The profile of typical Cypriot employees as seen by their managers’. Journal of European Industrial Training, 27(8), 423-434.

Everett, J., Neu, D. & Rahaman, A.S. (2006). ‘The global fight against corruption: A Foucaultian virtues-ethics framing’. Journal of Business Ethics, 65, 1-12.

Fassin, Y. (2005). ‘The reasons behind non-ethical behaviour in business and entrepreneurship’. Journal of Business Ethics, 60, 265-279.

Felton, E.L. & Sims, R.R. (2005). ‘Teaching business ethics: Targeted outputs, Journal of Business Ethics’. 60(4), 377- 391.

Getz, K.A. & Volkema, R.J. (2001). ‘Culture, perceived corruption, and economics’. Business and Society, 40(1), 7-30.

Giacalone, R.A. (2004). ‘A transcendent business education for the 21st century’. Academy of Management, Learning and Education, 3(4), 415-420.

Gildia, R.L. (1995). ‘Consumer survey confirms corporate social responsibility affects buying decisions’. Public Relations Quarterly, 39, 12-21.

Granitz, N. & Loewy, D. (2007). ‘Applying ethical theories: Interpreting and responding to student plagiarism’. Journal of Business Ethics, 72, 293-306.

Grünbaum, L. (1997). ‘Attitudes of future managers towards business ethics: A comparison of Finnish and American business students’. Journal of Business Ethics, 16(4), 451- 463.

Haswell, S., Judd, P. & wearing, B. (1999). ‘Accounting students and cheating: A comparative study for Australia, South Africa and the UK’. Teaching Business Ethics, 3(3), 211-239.

Hofstede, G. (1991). Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Hofstede, G (1994). Values survey module (VSM 94). Maastricht: IRIC.

Hofstede, G. (1997). Cultures and organizations: Software of the mind (2nd ed.). New York: McGraw-Hill.

Hofstede, G. (2001). Culture’s consequences: Comparing values, behaviors, institutions, and organizations across nations. New York: Sage.

Hofstede, G. & Bond, M.H. (1988). ‘The Confusius connection: From cultural roots to economic growth’. Organizational Dynamics, 16, 5-21.

Holland, T. (2002). ‘Ethics pay in the long run’. Far Eastern Economic Review, 165(15), 49-59.

Hosmir, L. (1994). ‘Strategic planning as if ethics mattered’. Strategic Management Journal, 15, 17-34.

House, R.J., Hanges, P.J., Javidan, M., Dorfman, P.w. & Gupta, V. (2004). Leadership, culture, and organizations: The GLOBE study of 62 societies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Husted, B.w. (1999). ‘wealth, culture, and corruption’. Journal of International Business Studies, 30(2), 339-359.

Jackson, T. & Artola, M.C. (1997). ‘Ethical beliefs and management behaviour: A cross-cultural comparison’. Journal of Business Ethics, 16(11), 1163-1173.

Johnstone, P. & Brown, G. (2004). ‘ International controls of corruption: Recent responses from the USA and UK.. Journal of Financial Crime, 11(3), 217-249.

Kennedy, E.J. & Lawton, L. (1996). ‘The effects of social and moral integration on ethical standards: A comparison of American and Ukrainian business students’. Journal of Business Ethics, 15(8), 901-911.

Kruger, T. & Roodt, G. (2003). ‘Hofstede’s VSM-94 revisited: Is it reliable and valid?’ South African Journal of Industrial Psychology, 29(1), 75-82.

Luthar, H.K. & Karri, R. (2005). ‘Exposure to ethics education and the perception of linkage between organizational ethical behaviour and business outcomes’. Journal of Business Ethics, 61, 353-368.

Marsden, H., Carroll, M. & Neill, J. (2005). ‘who cheats at university? A self-report study of dishonest academic behaviours in a sample of Australian university students’. Australian Journal of Psychology, 57(1), 1-10.

Maynard, M.L. (2001). ‘Policing transnational commerce: Global awareness in the margins of morality’. Journal of Business Ethics, 30, 17-27.

McDonald, G.M. & Kan, P.C. (1997). ‘Ethical perceptions of expatriate and local managers in Hong Kong’. Journal of Business Ethics, 16(15), 1605-1623.

McSweeney, B. (2002). ‘Hofstede’s model of national culture differences and their consequences: A triumph of faith – a failure of analysis’. Human Relations, 55(1), 89-118.

Mcwillaims, V. & Nahavndi, A. (2006). ‘Using live cases to teach ethics’. Journal of Business Ethics, 67, 421-433.

Merrit, J. (2002). ‘For MBAs, soul-searching 101’. Business Week, September 16, 64-65.

Moore, R.S. & Radloff, S.E. (1996). ‘Attitudes towards business ethics held by South African students’. Journal of Business Ethics, 15, 863-869.

Nyaw, M.K. & Ng, I. (1994). ‘A comparative analysis of ethical beliefs: A four country study’. Journal of Business Ethics, 13, 534-555.

Okazaki, S. (2007). ‘Cross-cultural advertising research: where we have been and where we need to go’. International Marketing Review, 25(5), 499-518.

Pacini, C., Swingen, J.A. & Rogers, H. (2002). ‘The role of the OECD and the EU Conventions in combating bribery of foreign public officials’. Journal of Business Ethics, 37(4), 340-385.

Patel, C., Harrison, G.L. & McKinnon, J.L. (2002). ‘Cultural influence on judgments of professional accountants in auditor-client conflict resolution’. Journal of International Financial Management and Accounting, 13, 1-31.

Peterson, D.K., Rhodes, A. & Vaught, B.C. (2001). ‘Belief in universal ethics: Gender differences, influence of referent others, and ethical beliefs of business professionals’. Business and Professional Ethics Journal, 20, 47-55.

Pillsbury, C. (2004). ‘Reflections of academic misconduct: An investigating officer’s experiences and ethics supplements’. Journal of American Academy of Business, 5 (1/2), 446-454.

Piper, T.R., Gentile, M.C. & Parks, S.D. (1993) Can ethics be taught? Perspectives, challenges and approaches at Harvard Business School. Cambridge MA: Harvard Business Press.

Power, S.J. & Lundsten, L.L. (2001). ‘MBA student opinion about the teaching of business ethics: Preference for inclusion and perceived benefit’. Teaching Business Ethics, 5(1), 59-70.

Premeaux, S.R. (2005). ‘Undergraduate student perceptions regarding cheating: Tier 1 versus Tier 2 AACSB accredited business schools’. Journal of Business Ethics, 62(4), 407- 418.

Pulley J.L. (2005). ‘More schools are teaching social and environmental ethics’. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 52(10), A.34.

Rokeach, M. (1973). Beliefs, attitudes and values. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Ryan, L. (2000). ‘Combating corruption: The 21st-century ethical challenge’. Business Ethics Quarterly, 10(1), 331- 338.

Salter, S.B., Guffey, D.M. & McMillan, J.J. (2001). ‘Truth, consequences and culture: A comparative examination of cheating and attitudes about cheating among US and UK students’. Journal of Business Ethics, 31(1), 37-50.

Schwartz, R.H., Kassem, S. & Ludwig, D. (1991). ‘The role of business schools in managing the incongruence between doing what is right and doing what it takes to get ahead’. Journal of Business Ethics, 10(6), 465-469.

Sheard, J., Markham, S. & Dick, M. (2003). ‘Investigating the difference in cheating behaviours of IT undergraduate and graduate students: The maturity and motivation factors’. Higher Education Research and Development, 22(1), 91-108.

Sims, R.L. (2006). ‘Comparing ethical attitudes across cultures’. Cross Cultural Management, 13(2), 101-113.

Sims, R.L. & Gegez, A.E. (2004). ‘Attitudes towards business ethics: A five nation comparative study’. Journal of

Business Ethics, 50(3), 253-261.

Singhapakdi, A., Rallapalli, K.C., Rao, C.P. & Vitell, S.J. (1995). ‘Personal and professional values underlying ethical decisions: A comparison of American and Thai marketers’. International Marketing Review, 12(4), 65-76.

Sondergaard, M. (1994). ‘Research note: Hofstede’s consequences: A study of reviews, citations and replications’. Organizational Studies, 15(3), 447-557.

Stahli, A. (2005). ‘The stakeholders’ perspective on the international business school’. Corporate Governance, 5(2), 121-129.

Sterngold, A. (2004). ‘Confronting plagiarism’. Change, 36, 16-21.

Sullivan, R. (2005). ‘Just power? Teaching business ethics in a time of maximizing returns’. Connection, New England’s Journal of Higher Education, 20(1), 29-30.

Thomas, A. & Bendixen, M. (2000). ‘The management implications of ethnicity in South Africa’. Journal of International Business Studies, 31(3), 507-519.

Transparency International (2007). Corruption Perception Index, www.http://cpi/surveys_indices/policy_research, [accessed 9 April, 2008].

Trevino, L.K. (1986). ‘Ethical decision making in organizations: A person-situation interactionist model’. Academy of Management Review, 11(3), 601-617.

Tsui, J. (1996). ‘Auditors’ ethical reasoning: Some audit conflict and cross-cultural evidence’. International Journal of Accounting, 31,121-133.

Tsui, J. & windsor, C. (2001). ‘Some cross-cultural evidence of ethical reasoning’. Journal of Business Ethics, 31, 143- 150.

Verschoor, C.C. (1998). ‘Corporations’ financial performance and its commitment to ethics’. Journal of Business Ethics, 17, 1509-1516.

walker, R. & Jeurissen, R. (2003). E-based solutions to support intercultural business ethics instruction: An exploratory approach in course design and development. Journal of Business Ethics, 48(1), 113-124.

weber, J. & Getz, K. (2004). ‘Buy bribes or bye-bye bribes: The future status of bribery in international commerce’. Business Ethics Quarterly, 14(4), 695-711.

whipple, T.w. & Swords, D.F. (1992). ‘Business ethics judgments: A cross-cultural comparison’. Journal of Business Ethics, 11, 671-678.

williams, S.D. & Dewett, T. (2005). ‘Yes, you can teach business ethics: A review and research agenda’. Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, 12 (2), 109-120.

Yeung, S.Y.C., wong, S.C. & Chan, B.M. (2002). ‘Ethical beliefs of hospitality and tourism students towards their school life’. International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality Management, 14(4), 183-192.

Zhang, Y., Straub, C. & Kusyk, S. (2007). ‘Making a life or making a living? Cross-cultural comparisons of business students’ work and life values in Canada and France’. Cross Cultural Management, 14(3), 174-195.

Zopiatis, A. & Krambia-Kapardis, M. (2008). ‘Ethical behaviour of tertiary education students in Cyprus’. Journal of Business Ethics, 8(3), 647-663.