, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 249-257

Ethical attitudes of students and business professionals: A study of moral reasoning

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A questionnaire on business ethics was administered to business professionals and to upper-class business ethics students. On eight of the seventeen situations involving ethical dilemmas in business, students were significantly more willing to engage in questionable behavior than were their professional counterparts. Apparently, many students were willing to do whatever was necessary to further their own interests, with little or no regard for fundamental moral principles. Many students and professionals functioned within Lawrence Kohlberg's stage four of moral reasoning, the “law and order” stage. Individualism and egoism remain strong patterns in the moral reasoning of many professionals, but they influence moral reasoning patterns among students to a much greater degree.

John A. Wood is Associate Professor or Religion at Baylor University.
Justin G. Longenecker is Emeritus Chavanne Professor of Christian Ethics in Business at Baylor University.
Joseph A. McKinney is Professor of Economics and Co-Director of Master of International Management Program at Baylor University.
Carlos W. Moore is an Edwin W. Streetman Professor of Marketing at Baylor University.