Journal of Academic Ethics

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 45–71

An Investigation into Unethical Behavior Intentions Among Undergraduate Students: A Malaysian Study



The purpose of this study is to investigate the influence of the dimensions of the theory of planned behavior, gender and course majors on unethical behavior intentions among Generation Y undergraduates. The sample of this study comprises 245 undergraduates from a private higher education institution (PHEI) in Malaysia. The instrument of this study is developed based on concepts developed from extant literature. Reliability and validity is accessed using Cronbach’s Alpha and Exploratory Factor Analysis respectively. Social desirability bias was monitored utilizing concepts adapted from Phillips and Clancy (American Journal of Sociology, 77(5), 921–940, 1972). Multiple Linear Regression and Independent sample T-tests were used for hypotheses testing. As a whole, results indicate that egoism, utilitarianism and magnitude of consequences exerted significant influence on unethical behavior intentions. Peer influence was not significant. In terms of gender, unethical intentions among males were influenced by egoism and peer influenced while females by utilitarianism and magnitude of consequences. Business majors did not consider magnitude of consequences significant in unethical behavior intentions. Ethical values form the fundamentals of ethical culture within organizations and a business environment which is increasingly based on self-regulation. Ethics is an essential part of the holistic personal development of future business leaders. As such, by understanding ethical attitudes and perceptions, we can draw implications for the further enhancements of teaching and learning of Business Ethics in academia as well as the development of ethical culture in the Malaysian context. Educators, parents and society also need to realise their role in the ethical development of these future Malaysian leaders. The framework of this study could be extended to actual behaviors, adult samples and also account for religiosity and age. This study utilizes the established dimensions and framework of the Theory of Planned Behavior in bridging the gap of research in unethical behavior within the context of a PHEI in Malaysia.


Business education Business ethics Generation Y Unethical behavior 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Taylor’s Business SchoolTaylor’s University Lakeside CampusSubang JayaMalaysia
  2. 2.Sunway University, c/o Sunway University Business SchoolPetaling JayaMalaysia

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