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Academic dishonesty across cultures review and research agenda.
Abstract:
This research lays the theoretical foundations to explore academic ethics across cultures. Specifically this research lays the theoretical fundamentals to explore the relationship between culture and academic dishonesty. Based on theory and literature review, this study predicts 1) a negative relationship between collectivism and academic dishonesty and a positive relationship between individualism and academic dishonesty. 2) A positive relationship between masculinity and academic dishonesty and a negative relationship between femininity and academic dishonesty. 3) A direct relationship between power distance and academic dishonesty. 4) And a negative relationship between uncertainty avoidance and academic dishonesty. The theory, literature review and hypotheses of this study should prove valuable for universities because Hofstede's cultural framework allows academicians to identify differences in academic dishonesty among students across different countries and thus provides a theoretical base for designing more effective global academic strategies. For example, studying academic dishonesty of students from various cultures is vital for universities to capitalize on positive values and safeguard against potentially unethical behaviors. Also, studying the relationship between culture and academic dishonesty sheds light on how to teach ethics more efficiently in various countries. Last, it helps academicians to match the amount and content of ethics teaching to students' cultural orientations.

Key Words: Academic Dishonesty, culture

Article Type:
Report
Authors:
Swaidan, Ziad
Awamleh, Raed
Swaidan, Rzan
Pub Date:
01/01/2009
Publication:
Name: Review of Business Research Publisher: International Academy of Business and Economics Audience: Academic Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Business, international Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2009 International Academy of Business and Economics ISSN: 1546-2609
Issue:
Date: Jan, 2009 Source Volume: 9 Source Issue: 1
Topic:
Event Code: 290 Public affairs Advertising Code: 91 Ethics
Accession Number:
208535014
Full Text:
1. INTRODUCTION

Understanding the relationship between culture and academic dishonesty has many advantages for universities worldwide. Academic dishonesty includes various activities of collegiate cheating from wrongfully getting information by looking at a neighbor's test to plagiarizing information in a term paper (Rawwas, Al-Khatib, and Vitell 2004). Hofstede (1991, p. 5) defines culture as "the collective programming of the mind which distinguishes the members of one group or category of people from another." Christie et al. (2003) found that culture has a strong influence on individuals' ethical attitudes. This study develops the theoretical foundations and literature review to examine the relationship between Hofstede's four dimensions of culture (i.e., collectivism/individualism, masculinity/femininity, power distance, and uncertainty avoidance), and the four dimensions of Rawwas and Isakson's (2000) attitudes toward academic dishonesty model (i.e., receiving and abetting academic dishonesty, obtaining an unfair advantage, fabricating information, and ignoring prevalent practices).

Cross-cultural research has demonstrated contradictory and mixed results in comparing the moral values of individuals from different countries. These contradictions in past research may stem from the fact that many researchers did not operationalize the construct of culture. Rather, they used "country" as a surrogate for culture. Consequently, it is difficult to determine whether differences in ethics across cultures are indeed due to culture or whether they are due to other factors. Kirkman, Lowe, and Gibson (2006) in their review of 180 studies stated that researchers tend to depend on Hofstede's (1980) country scores instead of directly measuring cultural values. The current study partially fills this gap in research by operationalizing the culture construct using Hofstede's framework. This study fills another gap by studying the relationship between Hofstede's four dimensions of culture and academic dishonesty. Much of past research has focused on studying the individualism-collectivism dichotomy and has ignored the other dimensions of Hofstede's cultural framework (Kirkman, Lowe, and Gibson 2006).

In summary, this study has three objectives. First, it lays the theoretical foundation to explore the cultural orientations of MBA students along the four dimensions of Hofstede's (1980) model. Second, it lays the theoretical foundation and proposes a methodology to study the academic dishonesty of MBA students along the four dimensions of Rawwas and Isakson's (2000) model. Third, this study discusses the theory needed to explore the relationship between culture and academic dishonesty.

2. LITERATURE REVIEW AND HYPOTHESES

Understanding the relationship between culture and academic dishonesty is a great challenge for business schools in their quest for globalization. Academic dishonesty is a growing problem and concern for higher education at a global level (Rawwas, Al-Khatib, and 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. A 1999 U.S. News & World Report poll found that 64% of college students in the U.S.A. engage in academic dishonesty. Similarly, a survey conducted by the Center for Academic Integrity at Duke University reports that three quarters of college students in the U.S.A confess to academic dishonesty at least once. The phenomenon of academic dishonesty is not unique to U.S. students but is, rather, a global challenge. 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 a global issue of concern. While academic dishonesty has been of interest to many researchers in the United States in the past, very little is known about the academic integrity of students in other countries.

Culture has a strong influence on attitudes toward both business ethics and various questionable business practices (Christie et al. 2003). Hofstede identified four dimensions of culture: Individualism/Collectivism. According to Hofstede (2001, p. 225) individualism is evident in "a society in which the ties between individuals are loose: everyone is expected to look after herself/himself and her/his immediate family only." Individualists value personal independence, pleasure, individual expression and personal time (Hofstede 1980; 1991). They tend to believe that personal goals and interests are more important than group interests (Hofstede 1984). Individualist cultures respect "super achievers" (Kale and Barnes 1992) and support a norm for excelling. In contrast, Hofstede (2001, p. 225) states that collectivism is evident in "a society in which people from birth onwards are integrated into strong, cohesive in-groups, which throughout people's lifetime continue to protect them in exchange for unquestioning loyalty." A collectivist's identity is based on the social system rather than on the self. Collectivist cultures emphasize cooperation, affiliation, and security. Wood et al. (1988) concluded that individualism/collectivism influences the moral reasoning of individuals. Several studies have reported that people in individualistic cultures are less concerned with following formal moral rules. Verma (1985) reported a positive relationship between individualism and the tendency to break rules. Akaah (1990) found support that individualists are less ethical than collectivists. It is therefore reasonable to believe that collectivist students may be less likely to engage in questionable practices than more achievement-oriented, individualistic students. Specifically, it is hypothesized that among MBA students

H1a: Collectivism is a negative determinant of academic dishonesty.

H1b: Individualism is a positive determinant of academic dishonesty.

Masculinity/Femininity. Masculinity and femininity refer to the dominant gender patterns in a society. Masculinity has been defined as "a preference for achievement, heroism, assertiveness, and material success" (Hofstede 1985, p.348). Masculine individuals are characterized as assertive, aggressive, tough, ambitious, competitive, focused on material success and oriented toward money and material objects. In contrast, feminine individuals are modest, tender, humble, nurturing and concerned with the quality of life (Hofstede 1980; 1991; and 2001). The ethical implications of masculinity center on the relationship between aggressiveness and ethically acceptable behavior. One problem is that assertive, masculine individuals might be more tolerant of aggressive, questionable behavior than more feminine persons. Modic (1987) demonstrated that ambition, personal financial gain and desire to win are the greatest contributors to unethical behavior. Cohen, Pant, and Sharp (1995) hypothesized that feminine individuals might be more concerned with ethical issues and less tolerant of aggressive, dollar-driven behavior. Thus, this study predicts a positive relationship between masculinity and academic dishonesty. It also anticipates a negative relationship between femininity and academic dishonesty.

H2a: Masculinity is a positive determinant of academic dishonesty.

H2b: Femininity is a negative determinant of academic dishonesty.

Power Distance. Hofstede (2001, p. 98) proposes that power distance represents "the extent to which the less powerful members of institutions and organizations within a country accept that power is distributed unequally." However, the uses of power and coercion are frequent occurrences in high-power distance cultures (Kale, and McIntyre, 1991). One important implication of power distance for ethical decision-making relates to the likelihood that subordinates would perform unethical actions in response to superiors' pressure (Cohen, Pant, and Sharp 1995). Christie et al. (2003) ascertained that business managers from a country with a small power distance (i.e., the U.S.) viewed a questionable business practice (i.e., complying with the superior's unethical order) as more unethical than business managers from relatively large power distance oriented countries (i.e., India and Korea). These findings support the notion that students who score higher on the power distance scale will reject questionable academic activities less than students who score lower on the same scale.

H3: Power distance is a positive determinant of academic dishonesty

Uncertainty Avoidance. Hofstede (2001, p. 161) defines uncertainty avoidance as "the extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by uncertain or unknown situations." Individuals with high uncertainty avoidance are more concerned with security in life, feel a greater need for consensus and written rules and are intolerant of deviations from the norm. In contrast, individuals with low uncertainty avoidance are less concerned with security, rely less on written rules and are more risk tolerant (Hofstede 1984). Past research shows that individuals who are low in uncertainty avoidance are more likely to take risks (Hofstede, 1984). From an ethical perspective the tendency to take risks is highly correlated with unethical behavior (Rallapalli et al. 1994). These findings provide evidence that students who score higher on the uncertainty avoidance scale will reject questionable academic activities more than students who score lower on the same scale.

H4: Uncertainty avoidance is a negative determinant of academic dishonesty.

3. METHODOLOGY

The instrument consists of three parts: 1) a measure of culture along the four dimensions of Hofstede's model using the Dorfman and Howell (1988) scale (30 items), 2) a measure of the attitudes toward academic dishonesty along the four dimensions of Rawwas and Isakson's (2000) academic dishonesty scale (24 items), and 3) a measure of the demographics of participants (14 questions).

Dorfman and Howell's (1988) CULT scale will be used to operationalize culture along the four dimensions of the Hofstede (1980) model. Dorfman and Howell (1988) developed and validated their CULT questionnaire adapting the culture scales from Hofstede's (1980) macro-level constructs to capture the essence of the cultural dimensions at the micro level. The reliabilities and factor analysis have been satisfactory and consistent in studies performed with both Mexican and Chinese managers (Dorfman and Howell 1988). Clugston, Howell, and Dorfman (2000) used the scale successfully to explore the relationship between culture and organizational commitment in the U.S. Swaidan, Rawwas and Vitell (2008) successfully used the Dorfman and Howell CULT questionnaire to explore the relationship between culture and moral philosophy using a sample of African-American consumers. Clugston, Howell, and Dorfman (2000) concluded that the Dorfman and Howell culture scales are adequate measures of culture at the micro level.

Rawwas and Isakson's (2000) attitudes toward academic dishonesty (ACAD) scale will be used to operationalize academic dishonesty. Rawwas and Isakson (2000) developed and validated their ACAD questionnaire that measures academic dishonesty along four dimensions. The reliabilities and factor analysis have been satisfactory and consistent in studies performed with American and Chinese marketing students (Rawwas, Al-Khatib, and Vitell 2004). Rawwas, Swaidan, and Al-Khatib (2006) used the scale successfully to examine the academic dishonesty of Japanese students in religious and secular universities. Rawwas, Swaidan, and Isakson (2007) used the scale to compare the academic dishonesty of American and Hong Kong MBA students. Rawwas, Swaidan, and Isakson (2007) concluded that the ACAD scales are adequate measures of academic dishonesty. Factor analysis with varimax rotation in several studies (e.g., Rawwas, Al-Khatib, and Vitell 2004) identified four significant dimensions of ACAD. The first dimension is "receiving and abetting academic dishonesty." The most significant characteristics of this factor are (1) almost universally perceived as unethical and (2) initiated by the student, such as "using unauthorized crib notes during an exam." The second factor, labeled as "obtaining an unfair advantage," arises when students engage in a shady situation, for example "receiving extra credit because the instructor likes you." The third dimension, "fabricating information," happens when students use faked excuses to justify wrongdoings, such as "using a faked illness as an excuse for missing an exam." The last factor is labeled "ignoring prevalent practices." Under this dimension, students perceive that since the consequences of their actions appear to produce minor harm, they are both permissible and ethical (e.g., visiting a professor's office frequently seeking help in a course).

4. CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS

This study lays the theoretical foundation to examine the relationship between culture and students' academic ethics. The roles culture plays on academic ethics shed light on how to teach ethics more efficiently. One promising approach to teaching ethics is to match the amount and content of ethics teaching to students' cultural orientations. For example, students with tendencies toward high collectivism, high uncertainty avoidance, low masculinity, and low power distance may need to learn how to play leading roles as ethical models in real or virtual business settings because they tend to be more sensitive to unethical practices. They may also need to learn how to handle less ethical partners and colleagues. In contrast, students with low collectivism, low uncertainty avoidance, high masculinity, and high power distance may need to learn more about the importance of ethics in business and society and the consequences of unethical practices.

In the classroom, there should be enough interactive learning between instructors and students to master appropriate actions for ethically controversial situations. For example, although collectivism is positively related to the level of ethics, in varying in-groups, members may act unethically depending on the group's ethical attitudes. A collectivist tends to less severely resist unethical practices when they are common in the society or organization. For example, Hispanic purchasing managers felt that questionable situations were more ethical than did American purchasing managers because they seemed to think that those questionable practices were acceptable all over Mexico in most business situations (Tadepalli, Moreno, and Trevino 1999). Collectivist students need to learn how to continue to make ethical academic decisions while escaping the in-group belief that a divergent behavior is betrayal or disloyal.

Chang and Ding (1995) found that masculine students are more likely to engage in unethical behaviors leading to personal gains. As previously cited, masculine students are characterized as assertive, aggressive, ambitious, competitive, and more oriented toward money and material objects. Furthermore, Modic (1987) found that ambition, personal financial gain, and desire to win were the greatest contributors to unethical behavior. Thus, our hypotheses may have academic implications if supported by empirical findings. For example, universities that deal with more masculine students may need to adapt their academic strategies to handle the unique characteristics of these students. Adaptations may include adding more ethics courses, adding more ethics content to current courses, and/or adding more ethics training to handle these students. Such strategic adaptations may influence the mix of academic variables including program offerings, pricing, promotion and delivery.

This study hypothesizes that power distance will be a direct predictor of academic dishonesty. This relationship is somewhat expected since students high in power distance are more likely to form submissive attachments than those low in power distance (Hofstede 2001). This hypothesis supports the likelihood that the academic dishonesty of high power distance students may depend on the situation. Thus, these students will often base their ethical decisions on situational factors. This finding has an important strategic implication for academicians in that academicians may find it more difficult to predict or control the ethical behavior of high power distance students. Academicians should not give the chance to high power distance students to cheat. They need to focus on the value of ethical practices in their classes more than within less power distance cultures.

Past research has found that students with high uncertainty avoidance are more concerned with security in life, feel a greater need for consensus and written rules and are intolerant of deviations from the norm (Hofstede 2001). Hofstede's typology implies that students strong in uncertainty avoidance need more direction and instructions to make their learning experience more convenient. It seems that students with high uncertainty avoidance may feel more comfortable in structured situations and uncomfortable in unstructured settings. Thus, academicians can improve academic ethics of students who have strong uncertainty avoidance by providing them with more guidance and instructions. By doing so, academicians will help students high in uncertainty avoidance to feel more comfortable learning in an environment where they can have easy access to detailed ethical instructions and easy communications to their instructors. Students high in uncertainty avoidance may perceive the universities that do not provide such support as ambiguous, more intimidating, unfriendly, and less ethical and will be less likely to continue their education in such universities. This is especially important for universities that offer their MBA programs online.

REFERENCES:

Christie, P. Maria Joseph, Ik-Whan G. Kwon, Philipp A. Stoeberl, and Raymond Baumhart , "A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Ethical Attitudes of Business Managers: India, Korea and the United States," Journal of Business Ethics, 46,2003, 263-287.

Clugston, Michael, Jon P. Howell, and Peter W. Dorfman, "Does Cultural Socialization Predict Multiple Bases and Foci of Commitment?" Journal of Management, 26(1), 2000, 5-30.

Cohen, Jeffrey R., Laurie W. Pant, and David J. Sharp, "An Exploratory Examination of International Differences in Auditors' Ethical Perceptions," Behavioral Research in Accounting, 7, 1995, 37-64.

Dorfman, Peter W. and Jon P. Howell, "Dimensions of National Culture and Effective Leadership Patterns: Hofstede Revisited," In Advances in International Comparative Management, Eds. Richard N. Farmer and Elton G. McGoun. JAI Press Inc. 1988, 127-150.

Hofstede, Geert, Culture's Consequences: International Differences in Work-Related Values, Beverly Hills, CA: Sage, 1980.

Hofstede, Geert, Culture's Consequences: Comparing Values, Behaviors, Institutions, and Organizations across Nations. Sage Publications: Thousand Oaks, California, 2001.

Kirkman, Bradley L., Kevin B. Lowe and Cristina B. Gibson, "A Quarter Century of Culture's Consequences: A Review of Empirical Research Incorporating Hofstede's Cultural Values Framework, Journal of International Business Studies, 37(3), 2006, 285-320.

McCabe, Donald L.; Butterfield, Kenneth D.; Trevino, Linda Klebe, "Academic Dishonesty in Graduate Business Programs: Prevalence, Causes, and Proposed Action," Academy of Management Learning & Education, 5(3), 2006, 294-305.

Rawwas, M.Y.A. and H. Isakson, "Ethics of Tomorrow's Business Managers: The Influence of Personal Beliefs and Values, Individual Characteristics, and Situational factors," Journal of Education for Business, 75(6), 2000, 321-330.

Rawwas, Mohammed; Ziad Swaidan; and Hans Isakson, "A Comparative Study of Ethical Beliefs of Master of Business Administration Students in the United States with Those in Hong Kong," Journal of Education for Business, 82(3), 2007, 146-158.

Swaidan, Ziad; Mohammed Y.A. Rawwas and Scott J. Vitell, "Culture and Moral Ideologies of African-Americans," Journal of Marketing Theory and Practice, 16(2), 2008, 127-138.

Ziad Swaidan, University of Houston-Victoria, Texas, USA

Raed Awamleh, Middlesex University Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Rzan Swaidan, University of Houston, Texas, USA

Dr. Ziad Swaidan received his Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi in 1999. Currently he is an associate professor of marketing at the University of Houston-Victoria, Texas, USA.

Professor Raed Awamleh received his Ph.D. from the University of Mississippi 1998. Currently he is a professor of management at the Middlesex University at Dubai.

Rzan Swaidan is a business student at the University of Houston-Victoria, Texas, USA.
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