Original Paper

Asian Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp 65-78

First online:

Business students’ cheating in classroom and their propensity to cheat in the real world: a study of ethicality and practicality in China

  • Zhenzhong MaAffiliated withOdette School of Business, University of Windsor Email author 


Widespread cheating among business students has been a great concern for educators and business managers in the West, but this issue is largely unexamined in Eastern cultures. This study explores the relationship between cheating at school and cheating in the real world in an international context by investigating Chinese business students’ perception of ethicality and practicality of common business practice. The results show that many Chinese students have engaged in academic dishonesty at school. It was further found that Chinese students have a good understanding of what constitutes ethical behaviors in the real business world and the need for such behaviors. They also believe that business people fail to act in an ethical manner, yet they are unwilling to compromise their ethical standards in order to get ahead in their future career, except when they have a strong need for competitive success. The findings show that Chinese business students view the ethicality of an action as being more important than its practicality in the real business world even though they hold a completely opposite view in their classrooms. Concern arises when self-centered values like competitive success become more accepted in modern Chinese society.


Business ethics China Culture Ethicality Practicality