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Ethics Vs IT Ethics: a Comparative Study between the USA and the Middle East

Abstract

This paper aims at investigating the perceived difference between ethics and IT ethics in college students. The study mainly investigates whether university students in the Middle East and their counterpart in the USA hold the same ethical values both in a traditional context and in an IT context. The study also investigates possible differences in students’ ethics considering their level of study and whether they have prior business ethics knowledge or not. Furthermore, the study controls for possible self-others bias in students’ responses to ethical issues by addressing some ethical issues where the respondent is the subject of the issue and other ethical issues where someone other than the respondent is the subject of the issue. Questionnaires were administered to university students in the USA and in several Middle East countries. A total of 401 usable questionnaires were returned. The study found that both the USA and the Middle East students have statistically significant lower ethical intention scores when addressing ethical issues in an IT context compared to traditional non-IT context. This pattern was consistent regardless of the students’ level of study and their prior knowledge of business ethics, and taking into consideration self-others bias. Additionally, it was found that graduate students have higher IT as well as non-IT ethical intentions compared to undergraduate students, however, it was found that the students’ prior business ethics knowledge did not affect the students’ ethical intention scores. Self-other bias was found to act in opposite directions for ethical issues in an IT context compared to ethical issues in a traditional context. For ethical issues within IT-context, students were less strict with themselves while they were stricter with others. For ethical issues within traditional non-IT context, students were stricter with themselves, while they were less strict with others. Finally, the study found that while students both in the USA and in the Middle East disagree with unethical IT as well as non-IT conducts, the degree to which they disagree with the unethical behavior significantly differ, where USA students were found to be significantly stricter with their disagreement.

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Correspondence to Nada Almasri.

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Almasri, N., Tahat, L. Ethics Vs IT Ethics: a Comparative Study between the USA and the Middle East. J Acad Ethics 16, 329–358 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-018-9310-9

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-018-9310-9

Keywords

  • IT ethics
  • Cheating
  • Self-others bias
  • Information technology
  • Education