Joint Effects of Corporate Positions and Prospects on Perceptions of Business Ethics Among Japanese Students: A Reflection of Collectivistic Cultures


Tamao Matsui, 3-29-14 Inokashira, Mitaka City, Tokyo, Japan 181-0001. E-mail:


This study was designed to account for inconsistencies between past research indicating that executives in general are more ethically oriented than employees. The reality in Japan's society is that it has been mostly top executives who violate business ethics. Japanese students (N = 201) assumed that they were “executives” or “employees” in a manufacturing company, and their company had “high” or “low” financial prospects. The high-prospect executives were most ethically oriented, while the low-prospect executives were least ethically oriented. Ethical orientation did not change across the two prospect conditions for the employees. The findings are interpreted in terms of ethical dissonance created by dual pressures from acceptance of Western global ethical standards and strength of indigenous collectivistic ethical standards.