Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 57, Issue 2, pp 139–159 | Cite as

The Influence of Nationality and Gender on Ethical Sensitivity: An Application of the Issue-Contingent Model

  • Can Simga-MuganEmail author
  • Bonita A. Daly
  • Dilek Onkal
  • Lerzan Kavut


When a member of an organization has to make a decision or act in a way that may benefit some stakeholders at the expense of others, ethical dilemmas may arise. This paper examines ethical sensitivity regarding the duties to clients and owners (principals), employees (agents), and responsibilities to society (third parties). Within this framework, ethical perceptions of male and female managers are compared between the U.S. and Turkey – two countries that differ on power distance as well as the individualism/collectivism dimensions. Our results show that ethical sensitivity varies depending upon whether the interests of principals, agents, or third parties are affected by a given ethical dilemma. We also find that, contingent upon the principal-agent–society relationships, the nationality and gender of the decision-maker influences ethical sensitivity.


context cross-cultural ethics ethical sensitivity gender Hofstede issue-contingent model Kohlberg  nationality roles 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Ameen, E. C., Guffey, D. M., McMillan, J. J. 1996‘Gender Differences in Determining the Ethical Sensitivity of Future Accounting Professionals’Journal of Business Ethics15591597Google Scholar
  2. Arlow, P. 1991‘Personal Characteristics on College Students’ Evaluations of Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility’Journal of Business Ethics106369Google Scholar
  3. Asgary, N., Mitschow, M. C. 2002‘Toward a Model for International Business Ethics’Journal of Business Ethics36239246Google Scholar
  4. Aycan, Z., Kanungo, R. N., Sinha, J. B. P. 1999‘Organizational Culture and Human Resource Management Practices: The Model of Culture-Fit’Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology30501526Google Scholar
  5. Aycan, Z., Kanungo, R. N., Mendonca, M., Yu, K., Deller, J., Stahl, G., Kurshid, A. 2000‘Impact of Culture on Human Resource Management Practices: A 10 Country Comparison’Applied Psychology: An International Review49192221Google Scholar
  6. Barnett, J. H., Karson, M. J. 1989‘Managers, Values, and Executive Decisions: An Exploration of the Role of Gender, Career Stage, Organizational Level, Function and the Importance of Ethics, Relationships, and Results in Managerial Decision Making’Journal of Business Ethics8747771Google Scholar
  7. Baskerville, R. F. 2003‘Hofstede Never Studied Culture’Accounting Organizations and Society28114Google Scholar
  8. Beck, B. F., Moore, L. F. 1985‘Linking the host culture to organizational variables’Frost, P. J. eds. Organizational Culture Beverly HillsSage PublicationsCA335354Google Scholar
  9. Beltramini, R. F., Peterson, R. A., Kozmetsky, G. 1984‘Concerns of College Students Regarding Business Ethics’Journal of Business Ethics3195200Google Scholar
  10. Betz, M., O’Connell, J.L., Shepard , M. 1989‘Gender Differences in Proclivity for Unethical Behavior’Journal of Business Ethics8321324Google Scholar
  11. Blanchard, K.: 1998, ‘The New Bottom Line’, Entre preneur, February, 127–131.Google Scholar
  12. Blodgett, J. G., Lu, L., Rose, G. M., Vitell, S. J. 2001‘Ethical Sensitivity to Stakeholder Interests: A Cross-Cultural Comparison’Journal of the Academy of Marketing Science29190202Google Scholar
  13. Boatright, J. R. 1992‘Conflict of interest: an agency analysis’Bowie, N. E.Freeman, R. E. eds. Ethics and Agency TheoryOxford University PressNew York187203Google Scholar
  14. Coate, C. J., Frey, K. J. 2000‘Some Evidence on the Ethical Disposition of Accounting Students: Context and Gender Implications’Teaching Business Ethics4379404Google Scholar
  15. Chow, C. W., Kato, Y., Shields, M. D. 1994‘National Culture and the Preference for Management Controls: An Exploratory Study of the Firm–Labor Market Interface’, AccountingOrganizations and Society19381400Google Scholar
  16. Chow, C. W., Kato, Y., Merchant, K. A. 1996‘The Use of Organizational Controls and Their Effects on Data Manipulation and Management Myopia: Japan versus U.S. Comparison’, AccountingOrganizations and Society21175192Google Scholar
  17. Chow, C. W., Harrison, G. L., McKinnon, J. L., Wu, A. 1999‘Cultural Influences on Informal Information Sharing in Chinese and Anglo–American organizations: An exploratory Study’, AccountingOrganizations and Society24561582Google Scholar
  18. Cohen, J., Pant, L. W., Sharp, D. J. 1998‘The Effect of Gender and Academic Discipline Diversity on the Ethical Evaluations, Ethical Intentions, and Ethical Orientation of Potential Public Accounting Recruits’Accounting Horizons12250270Google Scholar
  19. Cole, B. C., Smith, D. L. 1996‘Perceptions of Business Ethics: Students versus Business People’Journal of Business Ethics15889896Google Scholar
  20. Collins, D. 2000‘The Quest to Improve the Human Condition: The First 1 500 Articles Published in Journal of Business Ethics’Journal of Business Ethics26173Google Scholar
  21. Crow, S., Fok, L., Hartman, S., Payne, D. 1991‘Gender and Values: What is the Impact on Decision-Making?’Sex Roles25255268Google Scholar
  22. Cyert, R. M., March, J. G. 1963A Behavioral Theory of the FirmPrentice-Hall Inc.Englewood Cliffs, NJGoogle Scholar
  23. Davis, J. R., Welton, R. E. 1991‘Professional Ethics: Business Students’ Perceptions’Journal of Business Ethics10451463Google Scholar
  24. Dawson, L. M. 1995‘Women and Men, Morality and Ethics’Business Horizons386169Google Scholar
  25. Derry, R. 1987‘Moral ReasoningWork-Related Conflicts’, inFrederick , W. C. eds. Research in Corporate Social Performance and Policy, Vol. 9Greenwich, CTJAI PressGoogle Scholar
  26. Derry, R. 1989‘An Empirical Study of Moral Reasoning Among Managers’Journal of Business Ethics8855862Google Scholar
  27. Dienhart, J. 1995‘Rationality, Ethical Codes and an Egalitarian Justification for Ethical Expertise’Business Ethics Quarterly5419450Google Scholar
  28. Dobbins, G. H., Platz, S. J. 1986‘Sex Differences in Leadership: How Real are They?’Academy of Management Review11118127Google Scholar
  29. Douglas, P. C., Schwartz, B. N. 1999‘Values as the foundation for moral judgments: theory and evidence in an accounting context’Ponemon, L. A. eds. Research on Accounting EthicsJAI PressGreenwich, CT320vol. 5Google Scholar
  30. Dubinsky, A. J., Levy, M. 1985‘Ethics in Retailing: Perceptions of Retail Salespeople’Journal of Academy of Marketing Science13116Google Scholar
  31. Fijneman, Y.A., Willemsen, M.E., Poortinga, Y. H., Erelcin, F. G., Georgas, J., Hui, C.H., Leung, K., Malpass , R.S. 1996‘Individualism–Collectivism: An Empirical Study of a Conceptual Issue’Journal of Cross-Cultural Psychology27381402Google Scholar
  32. Fikret-Pasa, S., Kabasakal, H., Bodur, M. 2001‘Society, Organizations, and Leadership in Turkey’Applied Psychology: An International Review50559589Google Scholar
  33. French, W., Weis, A. 2000‘An Ethics of Care or an Ethics of Justice’Journal of Business Ethics27125136Google Scholar
  34. Frucot, V., Shearon, W. T. 1991‘Budgetary Participation, Locus of Control, and Mexican Managerial Performance and Job Satisfaction’The Accounting Review668099Google Scholar
  35. Galbraith, S., Stephenson, H. B. 1993‘Decision Rules Used by Male and Female Business Students in Making Ethical Value Judgments: Another Look’Journal of Business Ethics12227233Google Scholar
  36. Gibson, K. 1995‘Fictitious Persons and Real Responsibilities’Journal of Business Ethics14761767Google Scholar
  37. Gibson, K. 1999‘Role Morality and Individual Moral Responsibility in Accounting’Current Topics in Management48197Google Scholar
  38. Gibson, K. 2000‘The Moral Basis of Stakeholder Theory’Journal of Business Ethics,26245257Google Scholar
  39. Gilligan, C. 1982In a Different VoiceHarvard University PressCambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  40. Goodpaster, K. 1991‘Business Ethics and Stakeholder Analysis’Business Ethics Quarterly15374Google Scholar
  41. Harris, J. R. 1989‘Ethical Values and Decision Processes of Male and Female Business Students’Journal of Business Ethics8234238Google Scholar
  42. Harris, J. R., Sutton, C. D. 1995‘Unraveling the Ethical Decision-Making Process: Clues From an Empirical Study Comparing Fortune 1000 Executives and MBA Students’Journal of Business Ethics14805817Google Scholar
  43. Harrison, G. L. 1992‘The Cross-Cultural Generalizability of the Relation Between Participation, Budget Emphasis and Job Related Attitudes’, AccountingOrganizations and Society17115Google Scholar
  44. Harrison, G. L. 1993‘Reliance on Accounting Performance Measures in Superior Evaluative Style–the Influence of National Culture and Personality’, AccountingOrganizations and Society18319339Google Scholar
  45. Harrison, G. L., McKinnon, J. L. 1999‘Cross-Cultural Research in Management Control Systems Design: A Review of the Current State’, AccountingOrganizations and Society24483506Google Scholar
  46. Harrison, G. L., Kinnon, J. L. Mc, Panchapakesan, S., Leung, M. 1994‘The Influence of Culture on Organizational Design and Planning and Control in Australia and the United States Compared with Singapore and Hong Kong’Journal of International Financial Management and Accounting5242261Google Scholar
  47. Hegarty, W. H., Jr, H. P. Sims 1978‘Some Determinants of Unethical Decision Behavior: An Experiment’Journal of Applied Psychology63451457Google Scholar
  48. Hegarty, W. H., Jr, H. P. Sims 1979‘Organizational Philosophy, Policies, and Objectives Related to Unethical Decision Behavior: A Laboratory Experiment’Journal of Applied Psychology64331338Google Scholar
  49. Hofstede, G. 1980Culture’s Consequences : International Differences in Work-Related ValuesSage PublicationsBeverly Hills, CAGoogle Scholar
  50. Hofstede, G. 1991Cultures and Organizations: The software of the mindMcGraw Hill Co.London, UKGoogle Scholar
  51. Hunt, S. D., Vitell, S. 1986‘A General Theory of Marketing Ethics’Journal of Macromarketing6516Google Scholar
  52. Jackson, T. 2001‘Cultural Values and Management Ethics: A 10-Nation Study’Human Relations5412671302Google Scholar
  53. Jones, T. M. 1991‘Ethical Decision Making by Individuals in Organizations: An Issue Contingent Model’Academy of Management Review16366395Google Scholar
  54. Jones, T. M., Gautschi, F. H.,II 1988‘Will the Ethics of Business Change? A Survey of Future Executives’Journal of Business Ethics7231248Google Scholar
  55. Joyner, B. E., Payne, D. 2002‘Evolution and Implementation: A study of values, business ethics and corporate social responsibility’Journal of Business Ethics41297311Google Scholar
  56. Kasaba, R., Bozdogan, S. 2000‘Turkey at a Crossroad’Journal of International Affairs54120Google Scholar
  57. Kidwell, J., Stevens, R., Bechke, A. 1987‘Differences in Ethical Perceptions Between Male and Female Managers: Myth or Reality?’Journal of Business Ethics6451457Google Scholar
  58. Kohlberg, L. 1976‘Moral Stages and Moralization: The Cognitive–Development Approach’Lickona, T. eds. Moral Development and Behavior: TheoryResearch and Social Issues (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, New York)3153Google Scholar
  59. Larkin, J. M. 2000‘The Ability of Internal Auditors to Identify Ethical Dilemmas’Journal of Business Ethics23401409Google Scholar
  60. Lau, C. M., Low, L. C., Eggleton, I. R. C. 1995‘The Impact of Reliance on Accounting Performance Measures on Job Related Tension and Managerial Performance: Additional Evidence’, AccountingOrganizations and Society20359381Google Scholar
  61. Lessnoff, M. 1986Social ContractHumanities Press International Inc.,Atlantic Highlands, NJGoogle Scholar
  62. Lincoln, J. R., Hamada, M., McBride, K. 1986‘Organizational Structures in Japanese and US Manufacturing’Administrative Science Quarterly31338364Google Scholar
  63. Lyons, N. 1988Two Perspectives: ‘On Self Relationships and Morality’,Gilligan, C.Ward, J. V.Taylor, J. McLeanBardige, B. eds. Mapping the Moral Domain: A Contribution of Women’s Thinking to Psychology and EducationGraduate School of EducationHarvard University ,Cambridge, MAGoogle Scholar
  64. MacIntyre, A. 1984After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory2University of Notre Dame PressNotre Dame, INGoogle Scholar
  65. Mc Cabe, D., Dukerich, J., Dutton , J. 1991‘Context, Values and Moral Dilemmas: Comparing the Choices of Business and Law School Students’Journal of Business Ethics10951960Google Scholar
  66. Mc Sweeney, B. 2002‘Hofstede’s Model of National Cultural Differences and their Consequences: A Triumph of Faith–a Failure Analysis’Human Relations5589118Google Scholar
  67. McNichols, C. W., Zimmerer, T. W. 1985‘Situational Ethics: An Empirical Study of Differentiators of Student Attitudes’Journal of Business Ethics4175180Google Scholar
  68. Miesing, P., Preble, J. F. 1985‘A Comparison of Five Business Philosophies’Journal of Business Ethics4465476Google Scholar
  69. Nakata, C., Sivakumar, K. 1996‘National Culture and New Product Development: An Integrative Review’Journal of Marketing606172Google Scholar
  70. Newman, K. L., Nollen, S. D. 1996‘Culture and Congruence: The Fit Between Management Practices and National Culture’Journal of International Business Studies26753779Google Scholar
  71. O’Connor, N. G. 1995‘The Influence of Organizational Culture on the Usefulness of Budget Participation by Singaporean-Chinese Managers’, AccountingOrganizations and Society20383403Google Scholar
  72. Peterson, R., Beltramini, R., Kozmetsky, G. 1991‘Concerns of College Students Regarding Business Ethics: A Replication’Journal of Business Ethics10733738Google Scholar
  73. Piaget, J.: 1965, The Moral Judgment of the Child (trans. M. Grabain) (The Free Press, New York, 1965), p. 398, as cited in Velasquez, 1982.Google Scholar
  74. Ponemon, L. A. 1992‘Ethical Reasoning and Selection-Socialization Accounting’, AccountingOrganizations and Society17239258Google Scholar
  75. Poorsolton, K., Amin, S. G., Tootoonchi, A. 1991‘Business Ethics: Views of Future Leaders’SAM Advanced Management Journal5649Google Scholar
  76. Quinn, D., Jones, T. 1995‘An Agent Morality View of Business Policy’Academy of Management Review202242Google Scholar
  77. Radtke, R. R. 2000“The Effects of Gender and Setting on Accountants’ Ethically Sensitive Decisions’Journal of Business Ethics24299312Google Scholar
  78. Reiter, S. A. 1996‘The Kohlberg–Gilligan Controversy: Lessons for Accounting Ethics Education’Critical Perspectives on Accounting73354Google Scholar
  79. Rest, J. R. 1986Moral Development: Advances in Research and TheoryPraegerNYGoogle Scholar
  80. Rettinger, D. A., Hastie, R. 2001‘Content Effects on Decision Making’Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes85336359Google Scholar
  81. Robertson, C. J., Crittenden, W.F., Brady, M. K., Hoffman , J. J. 2002‘Situational Ethics Across Borders: A MulticulturalExamination’Journal of Business Ethics38327338Google Scholar
  82. Ronen, S 1986Comparative and Multinational ManagementJohn Wiley & SonsNYGoogle Scholar
  83. Ruegger, D., King, E. W. 1992‘A Study of the Effect of Age and Gender upon Student Business Ethics’Journal of Business Ethics11179186Google Scholar
  84. Schein, E. H. 1965Organizational PsychologyPrentice-Hall Inc.,Englewood Cliffs, NJGoogle Scholar
  85. Schwartz, M. 2002‘A Code of Ethics for Corporate Code of Ethics’Journal of Business Ethics412743Google Scholar
  86. Schwartz, S. H. 1994‘Cultural Dimension of Values: Towards an Understanding of National Differences’Kim, U.Triandis, H. C.Kagitcibasi, C.Choi, S. C.Yoon, G. eds. Individualism and Collectivism: Theoretical and Methodological IssuesSage PublicationsThousands-Oaks85119Google Scholar
  87. Simga-Mugan, C., Onkal-Atay, D. 2003‘Contextual Effects on Ethical Sensitivity and Penalty Judgments: The Turkish Case’Teaching Business Ethics7341363Google Scholar
  88. Sinha, J. N. P., Verma, J. 1987‘Structure of Collectivism’Kagitcibasi, C. eds. Growth and progress in Cross-Cultural PsychologyLisse,Swets and Zeitlinger The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  89. Stodder, G. S. 1998‘Goodwill Hunting’EntrepreneurJuly118121Google Scholar
  90. Tabachnick, B. G., Fidell, L. S. 1996‘Using Multivariate Statistics3Harper CollinsNYGoogle Scholar
  91. Thorne, L. 1998‘The Role of Virtue in Auditors’ Ethical Decision Making: An Integration of Cognitive-Developmental and Virtue–Ethics Perspectives’Ponemon, L. A. eds. Research on Accounting EthicsJAI Press Inc.Greenwich, CT291308Vol. 4Google Scholar
  92. Trevino, L. 1992‘Moral Reasoning and Business Ethics: Implications for Research, Education, and Management’Journal of Business Ethics11445459Google Scholar
  93. Trompenaars, F., Hampden-Turner, C. 1998Riding the Waves of Culture: Understanding Cultural Diversity in Global Business2McGraw- Hill Co.NYGoogle Scholar
  94. Tronto, J. C. 1993Moral BoundariesRoutledgeNew YorkGoogle Scholar
  95. Tsalikis, J., Ortiz-Buonafina, M. 1990‘Ethical Beliefs’ Differences of Males and Females’Journal of Business Ethics9509517Google Scholar
  96. Tsalikis, J., Seaton, B., Tomaras, P. 2002‘A New Perspective on Cross-Cultural Ethical Evaluations: The Use of Conjoint Analysis’Journal of Business Ethics35281292Google Scholar
  97. Vance, C. M., McClaine, S. R., Boje, D. M., Stage, D. 1992‘An Examination of the Transferability of Traditional Performance Appraisal Principles Across Cultural Boundaries’Management International Review32313326Google Scholar
  98. Velasquez, M. G. 1982Business Ethics: Concepts and CasesPrentice Hall Inc.Englewood Cliffs, NJGoogle Scholar
  99. Velasquez, M. G., Rostantowski, C. 1985Ethics Theory and PracticePrentice Hall Inc.Englewood Cliffs, NJGoogle Scholar
  100. Verma, J. 1992‘Allocentrism and Relational Orientation’,Iwawaki, S.Kashima, Y.Leung, K. eds. Innovation in Cross-Cultural PsychologySwets and ZeitlingerAmsterdam, The NetherlandsGoogle Scholar
  101. Weber, J. 1990‘Managers’ Moral Reasoning: Assessing their Responses to three Moral Dilemmas’Human Relations43687702Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Can Simga-Mugan
    • 1
    Email author
  • Bonita A. Daly
    • 2
  • Dilek Onkal
    • 3
  • Lerzan Kavut
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of Business AdministrationMiddle East Technical UniversityAnkaraTurkey
  2. 2.School of BusinessUniversity of Southern Maine PortlandUSA
  3. 3.Faculty of Business AdministrationBilkent UniversityAnkaraTurkey
  4. 4.Faculty of Business AdministrationIstanbul UniversityIstanbulTurkey

Personalised recommendations