Limited gender differences in ethical decision making between demographics in the USA and New Zealand

Susan M. Fredricks, Elspeth Tilley, Daniela Pauknerová

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Scopus citations


Purpose: The literature is divided upon whether a gender difference occurs with respect to ethical decisions. Notable researchers Tannen and Gilligan demonstrated gender difference while subsequent researchers indicate that gender differences are becoming more neutralized. The paper aims to discuss these issues. Design/methodology/approach: This paper analyzes the gender demographic and intercultural influences on ethical decision-making by undergraduate students from New Zealand and the USA through four scenarios. Findings: Overall for the USA and New Zealand, this research demonstrates this split as well, since two scenarios showed significance while two did not. The two that demonstrated a significance dealt with personnel issues and a past client relationship. These two scenarios suggested that a relationship orientation and relativistic nature among women may influence their decision making. The two scenarios without significance were less relationship oriented, involving dealing with a customer (a stranger) and a subordinate (implying a professional supervisory responsibility). In addition, the neutrality exhibited in the latter two scenarios may reflect Tannen's illustration that there is a cross-gender influence on decision making. With respect to the geographic location, the USA, when compared with New Zealand, and the gender demographics, only the USA reported significant differences for two scenarios. Originality/value: Undergraduate students in the USA provided situations and discussions that resulted in the development of a number of scenarios. Additional research and evaluation of current events, led to a total of ten scenarios with four scenarios yielding business related situations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)126-147
Number of pages22
JournalGender in Management
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Gender Studies
  • Business, Management and Accounting (miscellaneous)


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