A Comparative Study Of Ethical Values Of Business Students: American Vs. Middle Eastern Cultures

Author First name, Last name, Institution

Michael Shurden
Susan Shurden
Douglass Cagwin, Zayed University

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Journal of College Teaching & Learning (TLC)

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Business schools must prepare students to face the world and yet maintain strong ethical convictions. The question of ethics in the business environment is not exclusive to the United States. Ethical business behavior is a multinational issue, and all business schools world-wide must deal with this issue. However, cultural differences often define acceptable ethical behavior. For example, the acceptable amount of a "token" gift from one party to another is an ethical issue. Some American businesses do not even allow employees to accept gifts from clients, while within other businesses, both National and International, it is an acceptable tradition. Bribery of foreign officials during the 1970's addressed this issue of what is acceptable in the form of gifts and/or payments between public officials when they initiated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act of 1977, which prohibits the "paying, offering, promising to pay (or authorizing to pay or offer) money or anything of value"¦..to corrupt payments to a foreign official, a foreign political party or party official, or any candidate for foreign political office" (usdoj.gov). Ethical situations involving foreign officials and diplomats in other countries can also affect business transactions, which may ultimately be controlled by graduates from business schools in our colleges and universities. Consequently, the question is "What are the differences in ethical perceptions and values between cultures?" Once this question is addressed, business professors can adapt their teaching methods to help shape and mold the ethical values of business students. In a search for the answer to these ethical questions between cultures, the authors representing two universities, decided to conduct a small research sample on their business students. One of the colleges is a small public university located in the Southeastern United States, and the other is a university located in the Middle Eastern country of the United Arab Emirates (UAE). A small sample of students from selected business classes of each school were given a 16 question ethics quiz which had been taken from The Wall Street Journal . The questions ranged from personal use of company e-mail on the job to whether or not the individuals had lied about sick days or had taken credit for another's work. The authors hoped to determine whether there were any significant differences between the answers given from the two schools pertaining to these types of ethical issues and to learn to what extent the different cultures had in shaping the ideas of these future business professionals.




Clute Institute



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Business | Social and Behavioral Sciences

Indexed in Scopus


Open Access


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Bronze: This publication is openly available on the publisher’s website but without an open license