Assessment of Ethical Values of Students and Its Impact on Their Work Ethics

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Assessment of ethical values of students and its impact on their work ethic

Minoo Ghoreishi, Millersville University of PA
Dariush Rezaei, Kent State University


The purpose of this study is to assess ethical values of college students and employees. This paper examines recent occurrences in unethical activities of American corporations, evaluate students’ ethical values, and compare it to the ethical values of employees. The results of this research indicated that some students and workers underestimate selected unethical behaviors and do not perceive them as “unethical”. This research points to the fact that undervalue of unethical activity in college lead to unethical activity at workplace.


History of American corporations recorded corruptions in past and has been increasing. It is indicated that public confidence in the executives had declined significantly from 55 percent in 1966 to 16 percent in 1976 and even greater in the 1980’s. The observation was that corporate executives were interested in profit above public interest. Mistrust in an industry will harm participants in the industry and distrust of a single company may rapidly turn to bankruptcy. (Solomon, 1994) Corporate fraud in the United States threatens the trust in business and the reliability of the American corporations. Top managers have led companies to bankruptcy and jeopardize investment of their employees and investors for their self interest. Recent statistics indicated that American market has confronted with a major setback since World War II due to the corporate scandals that had demoralized the investor’s confidence (Investor 12). Enron was America’s largest bankruptcy in December 2001, followed by WorldCom, Global Crossing, Tyco, Arthur Andersen, Adelphia, due to their deceptive activities. Recent incidents gave more significance to ethical behavior in the society. Managers, employees and corporations need to be held accountable for their actions. Employees and stockholders need to be protected against poor management and a healthy economy. Consequently, there is a need to research about ethical root of American corporations and provide awareness and detect factors that lead to more ethical behavior in the society.

Review of the Literature:

There are evidences of the decline of honest and ethical behavior in the society. According to a research in 2001 entitles In Search of Ethics , eighty five percent of Americans perceive that modern western culture fails to offer a sense of belonging and values. The principles of integrity and moral fiber have declined in American culture. In a survey by Parent’s magazine, it was fond that ninety percent of Americans have lost sense of basic values and it is harder to teach traditional values to children. Students indicated that in order to be competitive for the top-rated colleges, they have to get top grades. However, students did not mind to cheat to get the higher grades. In addition, they justify lying, cheating, and stealing as long as it is not harmful to others. It is reported that about forty percent of high school students have stolen once within twelve months period. (Marrella, 2001). In general, there has been an increase in number of academic dishonesty reported since last decades. Table 1 summarizes this information:

Table 1
Reported Academic Dishonesty

YearPercentage of academic dishonesty

Students’ ethical values reflect on their ethical actions at work and in their community. In a survey of employees by the Ethics Research Center and Society for Human Research Management, thirty five to forty five percent of employees reported to have witnessed employees lied to supervisors or falsified records....
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