Academic Dishonesty of MBA Students.

AuthorSwaidan, Ziad


Understanding the relationship between moral values and academic dishonesty has many advantages for universities worldwide. For example, studying academic dishonesty of students from various universities is vital for academicians and administrators to capitalize on positive values and safeguard against potentially unethical behaviors. A greater understanding of how personal moral philosophies influence academic dishonesty will allow universities to develop better moral strategies. Studying the relationship between moral values and academic dishonesty sheds light on how to teach ethics more efficiently. It helps academicians to match the amount and content of ethics teaching to students' moral orientations. This study examines the relationship between Forsyth's (1992) two dimensions of moral ideologies and the four dimensions of Rawwas and Isakson's (2000) attitudes toward academic dishonesty model. Rawwas and Isakson's academic dishonesty model measures students' degree of rejection of various forms of collegiate cheating along four dimensions.

Forsyth (1992) hypothesized that moral philosophy has two dimensions: idealism and relativism. Moral relativism refers to the degree to which students believe that moral rules are not derived from universal principles but exist as a function of time, culture, and place. Moral idealism refers to the degree to which students focus on the inherent rightness or wrongness of an action regardless of the consequences of that action. Many researchers found that idealism and relativism are important in evaluating moral discrepancies between individuals (Al-Khatib, Vitell, and Rawwas 1997). Rawwas (1996) found that ethical ideology is a significant determinant of ethical beliefs. Al-Khatib, Dobie, and Vitell (1995) concluded that moral ideology influences perceptions of the "rightness" and "wrongness" of the action under question. They found that consumers who score high on idealism are less likely to engage in questionable activities than consumers who score high on relativism. Vitell and Singhapakdi (1993) found that moral philosophies partially explain ethical judgments and deontological norms. Vitell and Singhapakdi found that more idealistic and less relativistic marketers tended to exhibit higher honesty and integrity than less idealistic and more relativistic marketers. Erffmeyer et al. (1999) found an inverse relationship between idealism and engagement in unethical behavior. Kenhove, Vermeir, and Veniers (2001) found a positive relationship between idealism and ethical beliefs. Rawwas et al. (1995) found that consumers who score higher on idealism are inclined to view all types of questionable consumer actions as less moral than those who score lower on idealism.

In summary, this study has three objectives. First, it explores the moral philosophies of MBA students along the two dimensions of Forsyth's model. Second, it studies the academic dishonesty of MBA students along the four dimensions of Rawwas and Isakson's model. Third, this study explores the relationship between moral philosophies and academic dishonesty.


Academic Dishonesty

Academic dishonesty, which includes activities from wrongfully getting information by looking at a neighbor's test to plagiarizing information in a term paper, is a growing problem and concern for higher education (Rawwas, Al-Khatib, & Vitell 2004). McCabe, Butterfield, and Trevino (2006) found that more than half of college students in the United States and Canada admit to some form of academic dishonesty, at least once during the course of their programs. A 1999 U.S. News & World Report poll found that 64% of college students engage in academic dishonesty. Similarly, a survey conducted by the Center for Academic Integrity ( reports that "on most campuses, over 75% of students admit to some cheating." Even Texas A&M University with their Aggie Honor Code found similar levels of cheating. Other studies have indicated that between 40% and 60% of students admit to academic dishonesty on at least one exam. As students continue to face various sources of pressure from family, potential employers, and others to achieve higher grades, and as the economic situation continues to hold fewer employment prospects for college graduates, academic dishonesty is likely to continue to be an issue of concern. Furthermore, academic dishonesty among today's students may have far-reaching effects on their future ethical behavior as they assume different roles in the business world...

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