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Moral judgment: a comparison of Latvian and US business persons

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Abstract:

Purpose ‐ Given system-wide lapses in moral decision making in large US corporations and the inherited corruption from formerly planned economies, the development of moral reasoning is an important issue for business educators in the USA and Latvia. The purpose of this paper is to present a comparison of Latvian and US business persons. Design/methodology/approach ‐ Kohlberg's et al., theory of cognitive moral development (CMD), as operationalized by Rest as framework to study the antecedents of moral judgment in both lands. Survey data from 340 employed MBA students as a proxy for current and future business leaders are used. A total of 18 scenarios are reduced to four unique components, which are regressed on measures of CMD, Country of Respondent, and Moral Philosophy to test three hypotheses. Gender and age are added as controls. Findings ‐ CMD and Country of Respondent are strongly associated with increased moral judgment, while Moral Philosophy is less influential. In addition, the positive functional relationship between CMD and moral judgment exists in both countries but at lesser absolute values in Latvia. Findings also suggest that the efficacy of the independent variables varies with the issues at hand. Interestingly, moral dilemmas concerned with marketing strategies appear to be immune from moral reasoning. This indirectly gives support to Jones' concept of moral intensity and future research may wish to continue this line of inquiry as well as expand the comparison to other European Union countries. Originality/value ‐ The paper is the first to use the defining issues test to study levels of CMD in the Latvian business community.

Keywords: Baltic States; Cross-cultural management; Employee relations; Ethics; Latvia; United States of America

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1108/17465260910958809

Publication date: 2009-05-15

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