The Effect of Gender on the Moral Reasoning of Australian and Cypriot Business Students: A Cross National Comparative Study

Marios Demosthenous

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    Globalisation has raised many debates and questions in which there are implications for the accounting profession and the future business professionals of the world. Accountants in Australia and Cyprus and in many other countries are using the same International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRSs) to prepare financial reports and are abiding by an International code of conduct. Globalisation does not take into consideration the location of where business professionals live in the world (and any differences in their culture) and the effect it may have on their ethical decision making. In order to understand the ethical decision making of the future business professionals a survey was conducted at two universities, one in Australia and the other in Cyprus. The objective of this study is to investigate, compare and report the moral reasoning levels of business students from two regions of the world namely Asia Pacific (Australia) and Middle East (Cyprus) and examine whether there are any differences between the male and female students in each of the two countries. This study uses Kohlberg's moral development theory as a framework, and Rest's Defining Issues Test (DIT) as a measuring instrument to measure the moral reasoning of the students. This study found significant differences in the moral reasoning levels between the male and female students in Australia but no significant differences in Cyprus. This study found that Cypriot students' level of moral reasoning as measured by the DIT is at a very low level in comparison to Australian university students and students from other disciplines. Since moral reasoning has been linked to ethical decision-making (O'Fallon and Butterfield, 2005) these low moral reasoning results may mean that the Cypriot students are more likely to engage in behaviour that would be deemed unethical in society and countries like Australia.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)23-37
    Number of pages15
    JournalInternational Journal of Knowledge, Culture and Change Management
    Issue number5
    Publication statusPublished - 2012


    • Accounting students
    • Business students
    • Cross national
    • Culture
    • Defining issues test
    • Ethical decision making
    • Gender comparison
    • Kohlberg moral development theory
    • Moral reasoning


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