Studies have found that academic dishonesty is widespread. Of particular interest is the case of business students since many are expected to be the leaders of tomorrow. This study examines the cheating behaviors and perceptions of 819 business and engineering students at three private Lebanese universities, two of which are ranked as the top two universities in the country. Our results show that cheating is pervasive in the universities to an alarming degree. We first analyzed the data by looking at the variables gender, college (business vs. engineering), GPA, and whether the students had taken the business ethics course. We then supplemented this analysis by building an ordered logistic regression model to test whether these independent variables affect the level of engagement in cheating behavior when we control for the other variables. The results show that males engage in cheating more than females and that students with a lower GPA engage in cheating more. We initially find a difference between business and engineering students, but once we control for the other variables, this difference ceases to exist. Our most surprising result is that the business ethics course seems to have a detrimental effect on the cheating behavior of students. Finally, we find that perception plays a key role in defining the behavior of students. The more that students perceive that others are engaging in a certain behavior, the higher the probability that they will engage in the behavior, even if they believe that this behavior constitutes cheating.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
Because the number of students in each category was different since most students tended to be grouped in the middle categories, we recoded the variable GPA, but this time, instead of us picking the ranges of grades for each category, we let the statistical software divide the observations into five equal groups. When we reanalyzed the trend using the new categories, we obtained the same results. Therefore, these results are robust.
Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50(2), 179–211. https://doi.org/10.1016/0749-5978(91)90020-T.
Alleyne, P., & Phillips, K. (2011). Exploring academic dishonesty among university students in Barbados: An extension to the theory of planned behaviour. Journal of Academic Ethics, 9(4), 323–338. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-011-9144-1.
Aspen Institute. (2001). Where will they lead? MBA student attitudes about business and society. New York: Aspen Institute for Social Innovation Through Business.
Balotsky, E. R., & Steingard, D. S. (2006). How teaching business ethics makes a difference: Findings from an ethical learning model. Journal of Business Ethics Education, 3, 5–34.
Beekun, R. I., Alayoğlu, N., Öztürk, A. O., Babacan, M., & Westerman, J. W. (2017). Gauging the ethicality of students in Turkish institutions of higher education. Journal of Business Ethics, 142(1), 185–197. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-015-2779-x.
Bowers, W. J. (1964). Student dishonesty and its control in college. New York: Bureau of Applied Social Research, Columbia University.
Chapman, K. J., Davis, R., Toy, D., & Wright, L. (2004). Academic integrity in the business school environment: I’ll get by with a little help from my friends. Journal of Marketing Education, 26(3), 236–249. https://doi.org/10.1177/0273475304268779.
Christensen, L. J., Peirce, E., Hartman, L. P., Hoffman, W. M., & Carrier, J. (2007). Ethics, CSR, and sustainability education in the financial times top 50 global business schools: Baseline data and future research directions. Journal of Business Ethics, 73(4), 347–368. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-006-9211-5.
Crown, D. F., & Spiller, M. S. (1998). Learning from the literature on collegiate cheating: A review of empirical research. Journal of Business Ethics, 17(6), 683–700. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1017903001888.
Cuzick, J. (1985). A wilcoxon-type test for trend. Statistics in Medicine, 4(4), 543–547. https://doi.org/10.1002/sim.4780040416.
Day, N. E., Hudson, D., Dobies, P. R., & Waris, R. (2011). Student or situation? Personality and classroom context as predictors of attitudes about business school cheating. Social Psychology of Education, 14(2), 261–282. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11218-010-9145-8.
Elias, R. Z. (2009). The impact of anti-intellectualism attitudes and academic self-efficacy on business students’ perceptions of cheating. Journal of Business Ethics, 86(2), 199–209. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-008-9843-8.
Ellahi, A., Mushtaq, R., & Bashir Khan, M. (2013). Multi campus investigation of academic dishonesty in higher education of Pakistan. International Journal of Educational Management, 27(6), 647–666. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJEM-03-2012-0039.
Engler, J. N., & Landau, J. D. (2011). Source is important when developing a social norms campaign to combat academic dishonesty. Teaching of Psychology, 38(1), 46–48. https://doi.org/10.1177/0098628310390848.
Ford, R. C., & Richardson, W. D. (2013). Ethical decision making: A review of the empirical literature. Journal of Business Ethics, 13(3), 205–221. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF02074820.
Freire, C. (2014). Academic misconduct among Portuguese economics and business undergraduate students-a comparative analysis with other major students. Journal of Academic Ethics, 12(1), 43–63. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-013-9199-2.
Henle, C. A. (2006). Bad apples or bad barrels? A former CEO discusses the interplay of person and situation with implications for business education. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 5(3), 346–355. https://doi.org/10.5465/amle.2006.22697023.
Hernandez, T., & McGee, R. W. (2012). Ethical attitudes toward taking a bribe: A study of four European countries. Euro-Asia Journal of Management, 22(1/2), 3–28. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2199245.
Hollier, G., Blankenship, D., & Jones, I. (2013). College business students attitudes toward ethics. Journal of Business and Behavior Sciences, 25(1), 54–68.
Hughes, J. M. C., & McCabe, D. L. (2006). Understanding academic misconduct. The Canadian Journal of Higher Education, 36(1), 49–63.
Iyer, R., & Eastman, J. K. (2006). Academic dishonesty: Are business students different from other college students? Journal of Education for Business, 82(2), 101–110. https://doi.org/10.3200/JOEB.82.2.101-110.
Jensen, L. A., Arnett, J. J., Feldman, S. S., & Cauffman, E. (2002). It's wrong, but everybody does it: Academic dishonesty among high school and college students. Contemporary Educational Psychology, 27(2), 209–228. https://doi.org/10.1006/ceps.2001.1088.
Jordan, A. E. (2001). College student cheating: The role of motivation, perceived norms, attitudes, and knowledge of institutional policy. Ethics & Behavior, 11(3), 233–247. https://doi.org/10.1207/S15327019EB1103_3.
Karassavidou, E., & Glaveli, N. (2006). Towards the ethical or the unethical side? An explorative research of Greek business students' attitudes. International Journal of Educational Management, 20(5), 348–364. https://doi.org/10.1108/09513540610676421.
Klein, H. A., Levenburg, N. M., McKendall, M., & Mothersell, W. (2007). Cheating during the college years: How do business school students compare? Journal of Business Ethics, 72(2), 197–206. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-006-9165-7.
Kwong, T., Ng, H. M., Mark, K. P., & Wong, E. (2010). Students' and faculty's perception of academic integrity in Hong Kong. Campus-Wide Information Systems, 27(5), 341–355. https://doi.org/10.1108/10650741011087766.
Lau, L. K., Caracciolo, B., Roddenberry, S., & Scroggins, A. (2012). College students’ perception of ethics. Journal of Academic and Business Ethics, 5, 1–13. Retrieved on July 15, 2018 from http://www.aabri.com/manuscripts/11956.pdf
Lawson, R. A. (2004). Is classroom cheating related to business students' propensity to cheat in the" real world"? Journal of Business Ethics, 49(2), 189–199. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:BUSI.0000015784.34148.cb.
Long, J. S., & Freese, J. (2014). Regression models for categorical dependent variables using Stata. In College Station. Texas: Stata Press.
Lupton, R. A., Chapman, K. J., & Weiss, J. E. (2000). International perspective: A cross-national exploration of business students' attitudes, perceptions, and tendencies toward academic dishonesty. Journal of Education for Business, 75(4), 231–235. https://doi.org/10.1080/08832320009599020.
Ma, Z. (2013). Business students’ cheating in classroom and their propensity to cheat in the real world: A study of ethicality and practicality in China. Asian Journal of Business Ethics, 2(1), 65–78. https://doi.org/10.1007/s13520-011-0012-2.
Ma, Y., McCabe, D. L., & Liu, R. (2013). Students’ academic cheating in Chinese universities: Prevalence, influencing factors, and proposed action. Journal of Academic Ethics, 11(3), 169–184. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-013-9186-7.
Mangan, K. (2006). Survey finds widespread cheating in MBA programs. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 53(6), 44 Retrieved from http://www.faculty.polytechnic.org/gfeldmeth/mangan.pdf.
Marta, J. K. M., Attia, A., Singhapakdi, A., & Atteya, N. (2003). A comparison of ethical perceptions and moral philosophies of American and Egyptian business students. Teaching Business Ethics, 7(1), 1–20. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1022649026375.
Mayhew, M. J., Hubbard, S. M., Finelli, C. J., Harding, T. S., & Carpenter, D. D. (2009). Using structural equation modeling to validate the theory of planned behavior as a model for predicting student cheating. The Review of Higher Education, 32(4), 441–468. https://doi.org/10.1353/rhe.0.0080.
McCabe, D. L. (1997). Classroom cheating among natural science and engineering majors. Science and Engineering Ethics, 3(4), 433–445. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11948-997-0046-y.
McCabe, D. L., & Trevino, L. K. (1997). Individual and contextual influences on academic dishonesty: A multicampus investigation. Research in Higher Education, 38(3), 379–396. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1024954224675.
McCabe, D. L., Trevino, L. K., & Butterfield, K. D. (2001). Cheating in academic institutions: A decade of research. Ethics &Behavior, 11(3), 219–232. https://doi.org/10.1207/S15327019EB1103_2.
McCabe, D. L., Butterfield, K. D., & Trevino, L. K. (2006). Academic dishonesty in graduate business programs: Prevalence, causes, and proposed action. Academy of Management Learning & Education, 5(3), 294–305. https://doi.org/10.5465/amle.2006.22697018.
McCabe, D. L., Butterfield, K. D., & Trevino, L. K. (2012). Cheating in college: Why students do it and what educators can do about it. Johns Hopkins University Press.
Mirshekary, S., & Lawrence, A. D. (2009). Academic and business ethical misconduct and cultural values: A cross national comparison. Journal of academic ethics, 7(3), 141–157. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-009-9093-0.
Molnar, K. K. (2015). Students’ perceptions of academic dishonesty: A nine-year study from 2005 to 2013. Journal of Academic Ethics, 13(2), 135–150. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-015-9231-9.
Molnar, K. K., & Kletke, M. G. (2012). Does the type of cheating influence undergraduate students’ perceptions of cheating? Journal of Academic Ethics, 10(3), 201–212. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-012-9164-5.
Nga, J. K., & Lum, E. W. (2013). An investigation into unethical behavior intentions among undergraduate students: A Malaysian study. Journal of Academic Ethics, 11(1), 45–71. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-012-9176-1.
Nonis, S., & Swift, C. O. (2001). An examination of the relationship between academic dishonesty and workplace dishonesty: A multicampus investigation. Journal of Education for Business, 77(2), 69–77. https://doi.org/10.1080/08832320109599052.
Pfeffer, J., & Fong, C. T. (2004). The business school ‘business’: Some lessons from the US experience. Journal of Management Studies, 41(8), 1501–1520. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-6486.2004.00484.x.
Rakovski, C. C., & Levy, E. S. (2007). Academic dishonesty: Perceptions of business students. College Student Journal, 41(2), 466–481.
Rawwas, M. Y., Al-Khatib, J. A., & Vitell, S. J. (2004). Academic dishonesty: A cross-cultural comparison of US and Chinese marketing students. Journal of Marketing Education, 26(1), 89–100. https://doi.org/10.1177/0273475303262354.
Reisenwitz, T. H. (2012). Can a business ethics course affect academic dishonesty? Academy of Educational Leadership Journal, 16(2), 115–129.
Rettinger, D. A., & Kramer, Y. (2009). Situational and personal causes of student cheating. Research in Higher Education, 50(3), 293–313. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11162-008-9116-5.
Reynolds, S. J., & Dang, C. T. (2017). Are the “customers” of business ethics courses satisfied? An examination of one source of business ethics education legitimacy. Business & Society, 56(7), 947–974. https://doi.org/10.1177/0007650315609265.
Ruegger, D., & King, E. W. (1992). A study of the effect of age and gender upon student business ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 11(3), 179–186. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00871965.
Sauerbrei, W., Meier-Hirmer, C., Benner, A., & Royston, P. (2006). Multivariable regression model building by using fractional polynomials: Description of SAS, STATA and R programs. Computational Statistics & Data Analysis, 50(12), 3464–3485. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.csda.2005.07.015.
Scrimpshire, A. J., Stone, T. H., Kisamore, J. L., & Jawahar, I. M. (2017). Do birds of a feather cheat together? How personality and relationships affect student cheating. Journal of Academic Ethics, 15(1), 1–22. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-016-9267-5.
Smith, K. J., Davy, J. A., & Easterling, D. (2004). An examination of cheating and its antecedents among marketing and management majors. Journal of Business Ethics, 50(1), 63–80. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:BUSI.0000020876.72462.3f.
Smyth, M. L., & Davis, J. R. (2004). Perceptions of dishonesty among two-year college students: Academic versus business situations. Journal of Business Ethics, 51(1), 63–73. https://doi.org/10.1023/B:BUSI.0000032347.79241.3c.
Smyth, L. S., Davis, J. R., & Kroncke, C. O. (2009). Students' perceptions of business ethics: Using cheating as a surrogate for business situations. Journal of Education for Business, 84(4), 229–239. https://doi.org/10.3200/JOEB.84.4.229-239.
Stone, T. H., Jawahar, I. M., & Kisamore, J. L. (2009). Using the theory of planned behavior and cheating justifications to predict academic misconduct. Career Development International, 14(3), 221–241. https://doi.org/10.1108/13620430910966415.
Stone, T. H., Jawahar, I. M., & Kisamore, J. L. (2010). Predicting academic misconduct intentions and behavior using the theory of planned behavior and personality. Basic and Applied Social Psychology, 32(1), 35–45. https://doi.org/10.1080/01973530903539895.
Teixeira, A. A. (2013). Sanding the wheels of growth: Cheating by economics and business students and ‘real world’ corruption. Journal of Academic Ethics, 11(4), 269–274. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-013-9192-9.
The National Institute of Research and Development. (2018). The statistical bulletin for the academic year 2016 – 2017. Available online at: http://www.crdp.org/files/201712140916071.pdf
Tippitt, M. P., Ard, N., Kline, J. R., Tilghman, J., Chamberlain, B., & Meagher, G. P. (2009). Creating environments that foster academic integrity. Nursing Education Perspectives, 30(4), 239–244.
Tongsamsi, I., & Tongsamsi, K. (2016). Causal relation of academic misconduct behavior of students in Thai education institutions. Journal of Psychological and Educational Research, 24(1), 26–41.
Tsui, A. P., & Ngo, H. Y. (2016). Social predictors of business student cheating behavior in Chinese societies. Journal of Academic Ethics, 14(4), 281–296. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-016-9266-6.
Vandehey, M., Diekhoff, G., & LaBeff, E. (2007). College cheating: A twenty-year follow-up and the addition of an honor code. Journal of College Student Development, 48(4), 468–480. https://doi.org/10.1353/csd.2007.0043.
Waples, E. P., Antes, A. L., Murphy, S. T., Connelly, S., & Mumford, M. D. (2009). A meta-analytic investigation of business ethics instruction. Journal of Business Ethics, 87(1), 133–151. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-008-9875-0.
Weber, J. (1990). Measuring the impact of teaching ethics to future managers: A review, assessment, and recommendations. Journal of Business Ethics, 9(3), 183–190. https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00382643.
Weber, J., & Glyptis, S. M. (2000). Measuring the impact of a business ethics course and community service experience on students’ values and opinions. Teaching Business Ethics, 4(4), 341–358. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1009862806641.
Wei, T., Chesnut, S. R., Barnard-Brak, L., & Schmidt, M. (2014). University students’ perceptions of academic cheating: Triangulating quantitative and qualitative findings. Journal of Academic Ethics, 12(4), 287–298. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-014-9219-x.
Whitley, B. E., Nelson, A. B., & Jones, C. J. (1999). Gender differences in cheating attitudes and classroom cheating behavior: A meta-analysis. Sex Roles, 41(9–10), 657–680. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1018863909149.
Wilks, D. C., Cruz, J. N., & Sousa, P. (2016). Personality traits and plagiarism: An empirical study with Portuguese undergraduate students. Journal of Academic Ethics, 14(3), 231–241. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-016-9261-y.
Williams, H. J. (2011). Business school and business ethics: Responsibility and response. Seidman Business Review, 17(1), article 9. Retrieved from https://scholarworks.gvsu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1093&context=sbr
Williams, S., Tanner, M., Beard, J., & Chacko, J. (2014). Academic misconduct among business students: A comparison of the US and UAE. Journal of Academic Ethics, 12(1), 65–73. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-013-9200-0.
Yang, J. (2012). Predicting cheating behavior: A longitudinal study with Chinese business students. Social Behavior and Personality: An International Journal, 40(6), 933–944. https://doi.org/10.2224/sbp.2012.40.6.933.
Yu, H., Glanzer, P. L., Sriram, R., Johnson, B. R., & Moore, B. (2017). What contributes to college students’ cheating? A study of individual factors. Ethics & Behavior, 27(5), 401–422. https://doi.org/10.1080/10508422.2016.1169535.
We would like to thank Lara El Bachouti for helping us in the data collection.
Conflict of Interest
Both authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
Electronic supplementary material
To test the robustness of the best-fitting model from the ordered logistic regression analysis, we reanalyzed the data using different regression methods. The dependent variable engage can take on integer values ranging from 0 to 14. Two possible alternatives to ordered logistic regression are Poisson models and linear regression
Therefore, we refit Model 7 from Table 6, but this time, instead of ordered logistic regression, we used Poisson regression and linear regression. Table 7 shows the values of the coefficients for each of the variables and the level of significance. We also include the results of the ordered logistic regression in order to compare the three models. We observe that for all models, while there are differences in magnitude, the signs and significance of the variables are exactly the same, thus illustrating that the results are indeed robust. In addition, the AIC and BIC statistics for the ordered logistic regression are lower, indicating that this model is better than the others, thus providing further justification for our use of this type of regression.
About this article
Cite this article
Ghanem, C.M., Mozahem, N.A. A Study of Cheating Beliefs, Engagement, and Perception – The Case of Business and Engineering Students. J Acad Ethics 17, 291–312 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10805-019-9325-x