A Step Forward: Ethics Education Matters!

Abstract

Ethics education matters! Contrary to some common beliefs that ethical behavior is inborn, this study suggests that education does matter. This paper examines ethics education and its relationship with students’ ethical awareness and moral reasoning. Attitudes Towards Business Ethics Questionnaire and 10 vignettes were deployed as the major measurement instruments. It is hypothesized that students with ethics education will have both a greater ethical awareness and ability to make more ethical decisions. Hypotheses were tested in two undergraduate business courses at a major research university where 707 students were sampled. Results suggest that ethics education improved students’ ethical awareness and moral reasoning. Interestingly, results also seem to show that students’ readiness moderated their learning outcomes.

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Acknowledgments

Thanks to Riki Takeuchi and John Hulpke for data collection, and to Patrick Gibbons, Heli Wang, and Jorge Lengler for their helpful comments. Special thanks to the two anonymous reviewers who truly made a tremendous difference to this article.

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Correspondence to Cubie L. L. Lau.

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Lau, C.L.L. A Step Forward: Ethics Education Matters!. J Bus Ethics 92, 565–584 (2010). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-009-0173-2

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Keywords

  • business ethics
  • ethical awareness
  • ethics education
  • JUSTICE framework
  • moral reasoning
  • readiness