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

Abstract

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.

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Correspondence to Can Simga-Mugan.

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Can Simga-Mugan is a Professor of Accountancy at Department of Business Administration of Middle East Technical University, Ankara, Turkey. She received her Ph.D. in accountancy from University of Illinois-Urbana-Champaign. Her current research interests are ethics, international financial reporting issues, manipulation in the stock market and effect of news on the stock market.

Bonita A. Daly, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Accounting in the School of Business, University of Southern Maine in Portland, Maine. She teaches auditing and financial accounting to both undergraduate and graduate students. Dr. Daly also teaches business ethics in continuing education programs for practicing accountants. Her research on the accounting profession has appeared in Critical Prespectives on Accounting, Accounting, Organizations, and Society, and the St. John’s Law Review, among others.

Dilek Onkal is a Professor of Decision Sciences and is currently the Acting Dean of the Faculty of Business Administration at Bilkent University, Turkey. She received a Ph.D. in Decision Sciences from the University of Minnesota, and is doing research on ethics judgements, risk perception, risk communication, and judgmental forecasting.

Lerzan Kavut is an Associate Professor at Faculty of Business Administration of Istanbul University. She has received her B.A. and Ph.D. from Istanbul University. Her current research interest is in the area of behavioral auditing.

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Simga-Mugan, C., Daly, B.A., Onkal, D. et al. The Influence of Nationality and Gender on Ethical Sensitivity: An Application of the Issue-Contingent Model. J Bus Ethics 57, 139–159 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-004-4601-z

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Keywords

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