The Ethical Decision Making of Men and Women Executives in International Business Situations

Abstract

While a number of studies have examined the impact of gender/sex on ethical decision-making, the findings of this body of research do not provide consistent answers. Furthermore, very few of these studies have incorporated cross-cultural samples. Consequently, this study of 222 American and Spanish business executives explored sex differences in ethical judgments and intentions to act ethically. While no significant differences between males and females were found with respect to ethical judgments, females exhibited higher intentions to act more ethically than males. This difference was true of both U.S. and Spanish executives. Further research is warranted to develop a clearer understanding of the linkage between ethical judgment and intention to act in an ethical manner. These findings have implications for global firms, particularly regarding codes of conduct and ethics training.

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Acknowledgments

The authors wish to thank Robert Jones for developing the scenarios utilized in this study (scenarios also appear in Rittenburg, T. L. and S. R. Valentine: 2002, ‘Spanish and American Executives’ Ethical Judgments and Intentions’, Journal of Business Ethics 38, 291–306; Valentine, S. R. and T. L. Rittenburg: 2004, ‘Ethical Evaluations in Global Business Situations’, Journal of Business Ethics 51, 1–14). The authors would also like to thank Robert Jones and Kathleen Jones for their assistance with the survey development and data collection.

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Correspondence to Sean R. Valentine.

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Sean Valentine is an Assiciate Professor of Management at the University of Wyoming. His research has appeared in journals such as Human Relations, Journal of Business Research, Journal of Business Ethics, and Journal of Personal Selling & Sales Management.

Terri Rittenburg is an Associate Professor of Marketing at the Univesity of Wyoming; she is a member of the Editorial Policy Board for the Journal of Macromarketing. Her research has appeared in journals such as Psychology and Marketing, Journal of Business Ethics, and Journal of Macromarketing.

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Valentine, S.R., Rittenburg, T.L. The Ethical Decision Making of Men and Women Executives in International Business Situations. J Bus Ethics 71, 125–134 (2007). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-006-9129-y

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Keywords

  • ethics
  • gender
  • sex
  • U.S.
  • Spain