Traiser, Shanda Schulz; Ph.D.
Program of Education;
College of Human Development and Education; North Dakota State University
An Investigation of Moral Reasoning in Undergraduate Business Students at Public and Private Institutions
Major Professor: Dr. Myron Eighmy
Businesses today are concerned with the ethics of their current employees and also of potential employees. The purpose of this study was to investigate moral reasoning in undergraduate, senior-level business students at private and public institutions.
The study looked for significant differences in moral reasoning ability, as measured by Rest’s Defining Issues Test, version 2 (DIT-2), between students attending public and private institutions in North Dakota and Minnesota. The research also investigated differing requirements for ethics content in business curricula as specified by the three business program accrediting bodies: The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB), The Association of Collegiate Business Schools and Programs (ACBSP), and the International Assembly for Collegiate Business Education (IACBE). Also examined were differences in business ethics education requirements among the participating institutions. Additionally, differing perceptions between business instructors and their students in regard to the extend business ethics incorporation into the business curricula were studied.
The Narcissistic Personality Index (NPI) was used to measure the levels of narcissistic personality tendencies of the students to analyze for differences between students from the two types of institutions, as well as to look for significant relationships among the NPI scores, the DIT-2 scores, and several demographic and textual variables collected from the participants.
The study did not find significant differences in moral reasoning ability between the private school and public school participants; however, private school students scored significantly higher on the NPI. Significant relationships with the DIT-2 scores noted were G.P.A., participation in academic groups prior to college, and the total number of college activities in which a student participated. No significant relationship was found between the DIT-2 and NPI scores. Items with significant relationships to NPI scores included age, gender, school types, community type, family type, income level, participation in prior college athletics, participation in college athletics, total number of college activities, the number of business ethics courses taken, and the student’s self-assessment of preparedness of real-world ethical dilemmas. The results of the findings were analyzed and compared to prior research with recommendation for further research provided.