Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 123, Issue 1, pp 125-143

First online:

Culture, Gender, and GMAT Scores: Implications for Corporate Ethics

  • Raj AggarwalAffiliated withSullivan Professor of International Business and Finance, University of Akron
  • , Joanne E. GoodellAffiliated withCollege of Education and Human Services, Cleveland State University
  • , John W. GoodellAffiliated withCollege of Business Administration, University of Akron Email author 

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Business leadership increasingly requires a master’s degree in business and graduate management admission test (GMAT) scores continue to be an important component of applications for admission to such programs. Given the ubiquitous use of GMAT scores as gatekeepers for business leadership, GMAT scores are likely to influence organizational ethical behavior through gender, cultural, and other biases in the GMAT. There is little prior literature in this area and we contribute by empirically documenting that GMAT scores are negatively related to the cultural dimensions of masculinity and power distance and are positively related to math literacy, uncertainty avoidance, and individualism. We estimate that cultural factors may account for as much as an 80-point difference in cross-national mean GMAT scores which are also related negatively to local language literacy, national educational spending, wealth per capita, wealth inequality, and gender development. Most interestingly, we also find a significant negative association of GMAT scores with ethical orientation. These findings have important implications for business schools and corporate ethics and leadership.


Higher education Cultural dimensions MBA programs Business schools