Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 75, Issue 3, pp 239–252 | Cite as

Peers Versus National Culture: An Analysis of Antecedents to Ethical Decision-making

  • James W. WestermanEmail author
  • Rafik I. Beekun
  • Yvonne Stedham
  • Jeanne Yamamura


Given the recent ethics scandals in the United States, there has been a renewed focus on understanding the antecedents to ethical decision-making in the research literature. Since ethical norms and standards of behavior are not universally consistent, an individual’s choice of referent may exert a large influence on his/her ethical decision-making. This study used a social identity theory lens to empirically examine the relative influence of the macro- and micro-level variables of national culture and peers on an individual’s intention to behave ethically. Our sample consisted of respondents from Germany, Italy, and Japan. The results indicated that both national culture and peers were found to act as significant referents in ethical decision-making dilemmas. Although peers exerted a much stronger influence on an individual’s ethical decision-making, the impact of peers varied depending on the national culture levels of individualism and power distance.


antecedents decision-making ethics individualism/collectivism national culture peers power distance social identity theory 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • James W. Westerman
    • 1
    Email author
  • Rafik I. Beekun
    • 2
  • Yvonne Stedham
    • 2
  • Jeanne Yamamura
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of ManagementAppalachian State UniversityBooneUSA
  2. 2.Managerial Sciences DepartmentUniversity of NevadaRenoUSA
  3. 3.Department of Accounting and CISUniversity of NevadaReno, NevadaUSA

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