The Influence of Business School's Ethical Climate on Students' Unethical Behavior

Thomas A. Birtch, Flora CHIANG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)


Business schools play an instrumental role in laying the foundations for ethical behavior and socially responsible actions in the business community. Drawing on social learning and identity theories and using data collected from undergraduate business students (n = 318), we found that ethical climate was a significant predictor of unethical behavior, such that students with positive perceptions about their business school's ethical climate were more likely to refrain from unethical behaviors. Moreover, we found that high moral and institutional identities strengthened the effect of ethical climate on unethical behavior. In addition to novel theoretical contributions to the business ethics and socio-psychology literature, this study offers practical pathways through which business schools can nurture and instill the values and behaviors that ultimately help shape positive organizational ethics. Directions for future research are provided.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)283-294
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Business Ethics
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2014

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Business and International Management
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Economics and Econometrics
  • Law

User-Defined Keywords

  • Business education
  • Ethical climate
  • Institutional identity
  • Moral identity
  • Social learning
  • Unethical behavior


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