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Is gender inclusivity an answer to ethical issues in business? An Indian stance

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Purpose ‐ If females are more ethical than males, as the literature on the subject generally suggests, engaging and encouraging females in their careers would certainly promote an ethical environment. The present paper is motivated by such a viewpoint and aims to investigate gender-based differences in the ethical disposition and the underlying dimensions in ethical decision-making processes, by specific examination of business students. Design/methodology/approach ‐ The main research instrument is a quantitative questionnaire through which the responses of 162 business students (45 females and 117 males) are examined. For data analysis univariate analysis by invoking one-way analysis of variance and multivariate approach using cluster analysis are conducted to investigate gender-based differences in the ethical disposition. To determine the underlying dimensions in ethical decision-making processes, for female and male business students, the principal axis approach to factor analysis has been used. Findings ‐ The findings provide evidence that female business students are more ethically predisposed than their male counterparts. It is further observed that males exhibit less diversity in ethical decision making while females more readily invoked different ethical dimensions for different business scenarios. Originality/value ‐ The paper offers valuable insight into the role of gender in ethics in the context of Indian business. The fact that females appear to demonstrate greater sensitivity on ethical issues suggests that practitioners may want to use this knowledge for developing their organizational strategies, ethical codes, and evaluation systems. Further, the study also highlights the importance of realigning the curriculum in a manner that the teaching of ethics becomes an integral part of business school education.

Keywords: Business ethics; Decision making; Ethics; Gender; India; Students

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: January 1, 2010

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