Does Economics and Business Education Wash Away Moral Judgment Competence?

1 Pages Posted: 8 May 2016

See all articles by Katrin Hummel

Katrin Hummel

WU Vienna University of Economics and Business

Dieter Pfaff

University of Zurich

Katja Rost

University of Zurich - Institute for Organization and Administrative Science

Date Written: April 6, 2016

Abstract

In view of the numerous accounting and corporate scandals associated with various forms of moral misconduct and the recent financial crisis, economics and business programs are often accused of actively contributing to the amoral decision making of their graduates. It is argued that theories and ideas taught at universities engender moral misbehavior among some managers, as these theories mainly focus on the primacy of profit-maximization and typically neglect the ethical and moral dimensions of decision making. To investigate this criticism, two overlapping effects must be disentangled: the self-selection effect and the treatment effect. Drawing on the concept of moral judgment competence, we empirically examine this question with a sample of 1,773 bachelor's and 501 master's students. Our results reveal that there is neither a self-selection nor a treatment effect for economics and business studies. Moreover, our results indicate that – regardless of the course of studies – university education in general does not seem to foster students' moral development.

Keywords: Economics and Business Education, Moral Judgment Competence, Moral Reasoning, Self-Selection Effect, Treatment Effect

Suggested Citation

Hummel, Katrin and Pfaff, Dieter and Rost, Katja, Does Economics and Business Education Wash Away Moral Judgment Competence? (April 6, 2016). Journal of Business Ethics, Forthcoming, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2776488

Katrin Hummel (Contact Author)

WU Vienna University of Economics and Business ( email )

Welthandelsplatz 1
Vienna, 1020
Austria

Dieter Pfaff

University of Zurich ( email )

Rämistrasse 71
Zurich, CH-8006
Switzerland

Katja Rost

University of Zurich - Institute for Organization and Administrative Science ( email )

Plattenstrasse 14
CH-8032 Zurich
Switzerland

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