Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 123, Issue 1, pp 125–143 | Cite as

Culture, Gender, and GMAT Scores: Implications for Corporate Ethics

  • Raj Aggarwal
  • Joanne E. Goodell
  • John W. GoodellEmail author


Business leadership increasingly requires a master’s degree in business and graduate management admission test (GMAT) scores continue to be an important component of applications for admission to such programs. Given the ubiquitous use of GMAT scores as gatekeepers for business leadership, GMAT scores are likely to influence organizational ethical behavior through gender, cultural, and other biases in the GMAT. There is little prior literature in this area and we contribute by empirically documenting that GMAT scores are negatively related to the cultural dimensions of masculinity and power distance and are positively related to math literacy, uncertainty avoidance, and individualism. We estimate that cultural factors may account for as much as an 80-point difference in cross-national mean GMAT scores which are also related negatively to local language literacy, national educational spending, wealth per capita, wealth inequality, and gender development. Most interestingly, we also find a significant negative association of GMAT scores with ethical orientation. These findings have important implications for business schools and corporate ethics and leadership.


Higher education Cultural dimensions MBA programs Business schools 



The authors are grateful to Kenneth Brown, Mary Funck, Pawan Jain, Debmalya Mukherjee, Janet Murray, Gabriele Suder, anonymous reviewers and others for useful comments, but remain solely responsible for the contents.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Raj Aggarwal
    • 1
  • Joanne E. Goodell
    • 2
  • John W. Goodell
    • 3
    Email author
  1. 1.Sullivan Professor of International Business and FinanceUniversity of AkronAkronUSA
  2. 2.College of Education and Human ServicesCleveland State UniversityClevelandUSA
  3. 3.College of Business AdministrationUniversity of AkronAkronUSA

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