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Ethics-Related Responses to Specific Situation Vignettes: Evidence of Gender-Based Differences and Occupational Socialization

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This research presents findings from a study of gender-based differences in an ethical decision situation. The study focuses on gender as it relates to situational factors and accounting experience. The primary element of interest is how the gender of the actor (the person described in each vignette) influences the evaluation/assessment of the ethical/unethical decisions. While previous research has provided evidence of ethical differences relating to the gender of the responding subjects, limited evidence has been presented relating to situational issues that may influence assessments of ethical decisions.

This research uses four accounting environment vignettes to survey the responses of accountants and accounting students to the ethical/unethical nature of the actions that are taken. In addition, how likely the accountants believe they are to take the same actions is also surveyed. The subjects are a representative sample of practicing accountants in the U.S. and senior/graduate accounting majors at a state university in the southwestern United States.

The survey finds that occupational socialization is occurring up to a point. When specific rules are violated or tested, males and females behave similarly, thus illustrating that they have learned from their environment – occupational socialization. Alternatively, when gray areas are involved, they either tend to behave differently or assess the behavior of others differently, pointing to evidence of gender socialization.

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Smith, A., Rogers, V. Ethics-Related Responses to Specific Situation Vignettes: Evidence of Gender-Based Differences and Occupational Socialization. Journal of Business Ethics 28, 73–85 (2000).

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  • United States
  • Economic Growth
  • Specific Situation
  • Limited Evidence
  • Ethical Decision