Printer Friendly

Ethics of computer use: a survey of student attitudes.


The potential for misuse of computer systems and resources has been an important issue for many years. The rapid growth in use of remote access systems, the use of the internet and distributed systems for financial and other sensitive transactions, and the expansion in the availability of products in digital form is causing ethical issues surrounding misuse of computer resources to become an increasingly serious problem.

This paper surveys ethical attitudes of a set of undergraduate business majors. The survey presents sets of scenarios in which students are asked to indicate whether a particular action is ethical or unethical using a 7 level Likert scale. Alternative base scenarios have been designed to present ethical issues relating to various types of unauthorized access to computer resources. Other sets of base scenarios focus on the use of computers to illegally copy products (software and music recordings). In addition, for each base scenario, alternative sub-scenarios are presented in which the motives of the individual vary between intellectual curiosity, securing resources for personal use, profit, and malice toward the affected entity. The scenarios are designed to provide an evaluation of how the level of malicious intent in the action affects the students' perception of the degree to which the action represents a breach of ethics.

Results of this survey suggest that the intent of the individual engaging in unauthorized access or illegal copying does substantially affect student perceptions of the degree to which the behavior is a violation of ethics. In general, actions undertaken for profit or malicious intent are judged to be less ethical than the same actions undertaken for intellectual curiosity or to secure resources for personal use. In addition, a very strong majority of the students surveyed believe that any active participation in downloading is unethical.


As the amount of corporate and personal information continues to grow and the access to that information by IT personnel increases, ethics and value judgments by IT professionals becomes more important. Research in information systems security and control, has reported large losses attributable to unethical activities (Straub, 1986). Pearson et al. define three factors which require further study of ethical behavior of IS professionals. These include a greater reliance on IT systems across the business enterprise, increasing use of system generated information for decision making, and the lack of single unified code of ethics for all IT personnel (Pearson, et. al., 1996).

Professional organizations like ACM and DPMA have implemented an ethical code of conduct. In addition, organizations are increasingly establishing codes of ethics for internal use with about 93% of U.S. firms having such codes in place in 1992 (Berenbeim, 1992). Unfortunately, many of these codes are either very general statements which are difficult for workers to translate into individual situations or, in some cases the ethical statements are viewed by workers with a certain denial of responsibility (Harrington, 1996). As a result, gaining understanding of ethical issues is best accomplished through the use of scenarios. These scenarios must be specific and engage the participant. Integration of ethics topics has been recommended for the computer science curriculum (Miller, 1992) and specific approaches for delivery of this content, through scenarios, have been explored within an Information Systems curriculum (Couger, 1989). Both the ACM and DPMA have included ethical issues as a part of their recommended standard curriculum for schools. Students studying under general business or Information Systems Curriculum should be given knowledge about ethics issues.

Computer Science and Information System students will compose our future IT workforce. A survey of ethical attitudes of these students can be used as a proxy for ethical attitudes of entry level IT workers. Previous surveys of business students Slater, 1991) have shown that more than one-half of respondents claimed they had engaged in unethical computer activity, including hacking or illegal copying of software. This corresponds with surveys of industry abuse regarding the ownership of intellectual property. Losses for software developers attributable to piracy in 1996 were estimated to be 11.2 billion (SPA/BSA, 1997). This emphasizes the need for continued study of the ethical beliefs and value judgments made by students.


Paradice first evaluated student perceptions based on 12 scenarios (Paradice, 1990). Although the study lacked rigorous statistic analysis, three motives for ethical behavior were defined. Motives were defined for obligation, opportunities, and intent. Each scenario presented an ethical situation to which MIS and non-MIS students responded. He concluded that MIS students had stronger notions of professional responsibility, and that non-MIS students were more tolerant of software piracy. However, a study by Im and Hartman (1990) was not able to confirm divergent ethic perceptions between MIS and non-MIS students.

Generally students rated situations concerning opportunity and intent as unethical. However, results were mixed for obligations to clients and companies (Paradice, 1990). This behavior of opportunity and intent was confirmed by Whitman, et. al. with greater statistical rigor. In addition, through a rigorous application of multivariate factor analysis revealed that ethical motives (factors) could be more correctly represented by misuse of corporate resources, illicit use of software or software license infringement (Whitman, et. al., 1999).

The mixed results experienced by Paradice were confirmed by Calluzzo and Cante in a survey of graduate and undergraduate students. Students often represented misconceptions about ethical and non-ethical behavior in response to questions. Students agreed that behavior was unethical if it was a matter of personal privacy or theft of software. However when the questions concerned property or privacy violations for the enterprise or business, many student responses were neutral when a clear ethical violation occurred (Calluzzo and Cante, 2004). Couger's earlier study (Couger, 1989) had also found that students were indifferent about enterprise piracy.

Ethical perceptions have been found to differ between industry professionals and students. Generally, greater IS experience produced stricter ethical interpretations. Older IS professionals rated situations as unethical where students or younger professionals allowed a more liberal interpretation (Prior, et. al. 2002). Behavior, including the production of software with bugs, or reducing testing efforts to bring a project within time and budget, was considered acceptable and not viewed as unethical by students. This result was confirmed when student responses were compared to those of industry experts (Athey, 1993). Justification for the differential was attributed to lack of experience, student income level, or just that students see this behavior everyday in the business world, and so perceive it as acceptable behavior.

In explaining the student ethical evaluations, studies have used a variety of demographic factors like age, gender, computer experience, academic major or knowledge of programming languages (Whitman, et. al., 1999), income level (Athey, 1993) or just gender (Leventhal, et. al., 1992) Some evidence supports that male and female responses will differ (Leventhal, et. al., 1992). However, the results vary depending on the type of question.


This study examines differences in perceived motivation or intent of an action and how these differences in intent affect student ethical evaluations. Student perceptions of how seriously ethical behavior is breached in a number of scenarios describing unauthorized access to computer systems, or use of computers in the illegal copying/distribution of copyrighted materials are examined. While a number of studies have looked at similar issues, few have rigorously examined how the motivation for the unauthorized access or illegal copying affects our ethical assessment of this behavior.

The focus on intent is created by presenting alternative scenarios in which the type of access or copying is identical, but where the motivation of the individual involved and the use made of the unauthorized access or illegal copies is varied. Scenarios are presented in which the incident of misuse, unauthorized access, or illegal copying is motivated by a variety of factors including--intellectual curiosity, malicious use of resources, obtaining resources for personal use or to support non-profit motivated activities, or obtaining resources for profit. We hypothesize that acts motivated by profit or malice will be viewed as more severe breaches of ethics than the same acts performed to satisfy intellectual curiosity or to obtain resources not used for profit.


The question set used is adapted from one developed by Paradice (1990). Paradice defined three motivations for his question set, consisting of obligation, opportunity, and intent. Since the purpose of the study was to identify levels of perceived intent, where intent was judged based on the level of malice, Paradice's questions on the motivation of obligation were deleted. Questions from the opportunity motivation were used essentially unchanged and questions from the intent motivation were both extended to provide better clarification of actor intent and supplemented with additional questions relating to software piracy.

A follow-on study applying a rigorous factor analysis to Paradice's question set isolated three specific factors (Whitman, et. al., 1999). These ethical factors were defined as software license infringement, illicit use (writing and disseminating viruses or causing a system crash), and misuse of corporate resources. To ensure comprehensive coverage of these factors affecting ethical decision making, this question set was mapped to these factors replacing the original motivations defined by Paradice. Questions 1 and 2 map to misuse of corporate resources, 3 and 4 map to illicit use, and 5, 6 and 7 map to license infringement.

The nature of the software referred to in each question (Word processing vs. Web Bots) was also changed to reflect the timeframe of this study, since the original work was created nearly 15 years ago. In addition, we have systematically increased the number of alternative scenarios in which the type of unauthorized access or license infringement was the same but the motive and type of use differed.

This survey was administered to students in a junior level management information systems (MIS) course at an AACSB accredited school of business which includes an outside ethics course in addition to ethics content included throughout the business core courses. The survey was administered across multiple sections serving different populations. One section, with 30 respondents, was an on-line section whose students were predominantly participants in a web-based undergraduate degree program for students with community college degrees relating to information technology. The remaining sections, with 37 respondents, were open to all business majors and were taught in face-to-face mode with supplemental materials, including the survey, provided online.

It seems reasonable to assume that the students in the on-line section were, in general, more sophisticated in their knowledge and experience with the use of computer systems, but would this affect their ethical perspectives. Greater knowledge of potential abuses in computer systems might make students more sensitive to the dangers of abusing computer privileges, and the fact that many of the students in the online course were headed for IT related careers might make them more sensitive to the codes of ethics and professional obligations relating to computer use. For these reasons we hypothesize that the students in the on-line section for students pursuing IT related careers will tend to view the ethical breaches in each of the scenarios as more severe than the general business students in the face-to-face sections. Comparisons between the two types of students are presented in the last empirical results sub-section below.

Survey Questions asked respondents to rate the behavior described in each scenario on a 7 point, centered, Likert scale. The response choices presented were 1) very ethical, 2) ethical, 3) somewhat ethical, 4) questionable, 5) somewhat unethical, 6) unethical, and 7) very unethical. Seven fundamental ethical scenarios were presented. However, variations with modification in the motivation for the action described were presented for most of the scenarios leading to a total of 19 questions. Two of the base scenarios and 4 total questions dealt with instances of misuse of corporate computer resources, Two base scenarios and 5 questions dealt with instances of illicit use of (unauthorized access to) computer resources. Finally, three base scenarios and 10 questions dealt with aspects of illegal copying and/or distribution of copyrighted software or digitized music. The questions used are listed in the heading area of each table of survey results presented below. In describing these empirical results, we will cover the scenarios, by category, in the order described above.


In the tables of results presented below, the distribution of responses across the whole survey group (67 observations) is presented along with an indication of the percentage of respondents selecting each response. The median response is also indicated by that response being shown in bold faced type.

Likert scales provide data that are ordinal in nature. Although Likert scale data has often been analyzed using statistics designed for cardinal data, it is more appropriate to use nonparametric statistical tests that are valid for ordinal data (Classon and Dormody, 1994).

In the results presented below, the single sample Wilcoxin signed-ranks test for differences in paired responses is used to assess differences in response across scenarios posing the same action but with variations in the motivation for the action. Given that the data were coded so that a 1 means very ethical and a 7 means very unethical, a positive value for the signed rank statistic S means that respondents believed the first item in the pair to be less ethical than the second. Thus, for instance, the substantial negative value for the S statistic in the comparison of Question 1A with Question 1B in Table 1 indicates that respondents believe that the student's actions in finding the security loophole represented less of an ethical breach than the student's actions in using the loophole to access other students' records. The probability that the observed S value could have occurred when there is no difference in the population's rankings of the two items is shown in parentheses below each S value and results that are significant at the .05 level are indicated by an asterisk in the table results presented here.

Misuse of Corporate Resources

The first scenario of misuse of corporate resources presented is the one summarized in Table 1. A student finds a loophole in the security of a university computer system. The alternative scenarios assess the ethics of the student in finding the loophole, and in using it to access private information of other students. On average, respondents found the student's action in finding the loophole somewhat unethical, but found his or her action in exploiting the loophole, scenario B, significantly more unethical. Scenario C under this question deals with the actions of the administrator of the system that was breached, and the obligation to protect users for breaches of privacy. Respondents on average felt that the response of the system administrator was of questionable ethics, but felt that it was significantly less unethical than the actions of the student in accessing other students' records.

Table 2 presents a single scenario of a programmer at a bank modifying an accounting information system to avoid a service charge on his personal account. Respondents on average found this behavior unethical with a near majority finding it very unethical.

Illicit Use of Computer Resources

Table 3 presents results for a scenario in which a manager of a company subscribes to online services provided by a competing company. Two alternatives of this scenario have the manager using information she obtained to identify sales prospects in one case and to attempt to crash the competitors on-line system in the alternative scenario. On average respondents felt that using the competitor's own system to identify prospects was unethical while using it to crash the competitor's system was overwhelmingly viewed as very unethical.

Table 4 presents a set of scenarios about a programmer installing "bots" on vulnerable computers on the internet and using them in a variety of ways. In the first alternative he uses the bots to launch a denial of service attack against the web site of a company that he believes engages in exploitive behavior. In the second scenario, he simply uses the bots for his own amusement to calculate the value of Pi. Finally in the third scenario he ultimately uses the bots to extort money for personal gain.

Not surprisingly, respondents overwhelming found the use of the bots for personal gain to be very unethical and found this behavior more unethical than the other 2 scenarios. Perhaps more surprising is the fact that, when the target of a denial of service attack was a company thought to engage in exploitive practices, respondents did not feel that use of the bots in a denial of service attack was less ethical than just using them for personal amusement.

Illegal Copying and Distribution

Three base scenarios of illegal copying and or distribution of copyrighted materials are presented here with variations involving differences in how widely the materials are distributed and whether profit is involved. The first scenario involves improper copying and use of computer software, while the remaining scenarios deal with downloading or copying copyrighted music.

Table 5 presents 3 variations of a scenario in which a student with a legal license to use a software package for educational purposes retained that software in violation of the license agreement after graduation. In one alternative she used the software to support work for a charitable organization, in another she used it for personal and job search activities, and in the third she used it in a for-profit company. The median response to the charitable and personal uses was that these uses were somewhat unethical. However, respondents felt that use of the software in a for-profit venture was more unethical than the other uses. The median response indicated this behavior was believed to be unethical and about a quarter of the respondents felt it to be highly unethical.

Table 6 presents a set of scenarios relating to use and distribution of software illegally copied from a web site. Alternatives involving keeping the music for personal use, providing copies to friends, providing copies for no gain on the web, and selling copies of the downloaded music for personal gain were evaluated by respondents. Evaluation of the median responses and results of the signed-rank test indicate that our survey respondents felt that each of these activities involved progressively greater violations of ethics. Respondents overwhelmingly found the sale of such downloaded music for profit to be very unethical. In fact the proportion of respondents finding this behavior very unethical was the highest of that for any of the scenarios and alternatives presented in this study.

Table 7 presents scenarios similar to those of Table 6, except that here the music was originally purchased legally and was performed by a local band. Alternatives involving distribution to a few friends, making the music available to any one on the internet with no personal gain, and copying and selling the CD for personal gain were evaluated by respondents. Once again our respondents found each of these scenarios to represent successively greater breaches of ethics. While the majority of respondents found sale of the copied CDs to be very unethical, it is interesting that respondent tended to view each of the alternatives in Table 7 as slight less severe violations of ethics than the corresponding alternatives presented in Table 6. Evidently, the fact that the copy was initially obtained by illegal means made respondents more critical of further uses of the music.

Comparisons Among Groups

As noted above the survey was completed both by a set of general business majors and by a separable set of students who were predominantly IS related majors in an on-line class. To see if these groups differed, we tested for differences in response between the predominantly IS student on-line section and the face-to-face sections consisting of general business majors. In this assessment, we treated the two types of sections as independent samples and performed a Chi-Square test for differences between the two samples. Results of the Chi-Square test are recorded as a Z-statistic where, for the given sample size, values greater than two generally indicate that the mean responses of the two groups are different using the standard .05 probability level for rejecting the null hypothesis of equality. The samples were ordered in a manner that causes the Z-statistic to be negative when the students in the on-line, IS oriented program rated the behavior in a scenario as less ethical than the class of general business majors. Chi-Square test results that are significant at the .05 level are also indicated by an asterisk.

The results shown in table 8 suggest that the differences between the two groups are of only modest magnitude. While the sign of the Z-statistic indicates that the online, IS oriented, students were usually more negative in their ratings of behavior in nearly every scenario, the differences were only statistically significant in 3 of 20 cases. It is interesting that the statistically significant values all came in the variant of a given scenario that was viewed as least unethical. It appears that perhaps IS oriented students are less tolerant of modest breaches of ethics, while both groups find more serious breaches equally egregious.


This paper presents the results of a survey of ethical attitudes among undergraduate business majors and IS majors. Students evaluated various scenarios related to the use of computer systems by individuals. These scenarios presented the student with a number of varying degrees of activity that could be judged in terms of their level of ethical or unethical activity. The judgment made by the student was on a scale of Very Ethical to Very Unethical with five levels in between. Sixty seven students participated in the survey.

The results of the survey are summarized in Table 9. The table shows the median ranking for each activity and also the score for the test for differences between the different activities for each scenario--statistically significant values are italicized. The median rank for all activities is in the range of somewhat unethical to very unethical. The results show that the intent of an individual engaging in the activity does alter the students' perception of the level of ethical behavior. Personal use of software, or downloads was judged more as being just somewhat unethical as was hacking into a computer system for reasons of intellectual curiosity. Malicious activity (scenarios 1, 2, 3 and 4) however, was judged primarily in the unethical to very unethical range. Accessing other peoples records, changing code for personal gain, and causing reduced response time on company PCs was judged to be in the unethical to very unethical range. However, causing reduced response time for a company that was believed to exploit its workers and was unfriendly to the environment was viewed no more negatively than the same activity performed without malicious intent. Sharing illegal copies with others was seen as less ethical than just personal use of such copies, and profiting from the illegal reproduction of music CD was overwhelmingly judged to be highly unethical. Very little difference was observed between the IS and general business groups of students. It appeared the IS students were a little less tolerant of modest breaches of ethics.

Further research should be done using other populations of students, industry users, and non industry home users to see if there are differences in attitudes among different types of users. Also, future research should examine the effects of ethics curriculum and the use of codes of ethics by conductive comparative studies of students before and after exposure to ethics instruction.


Support for this study was provided by a grant from NAU's E-Learning Center


Athey, Susan (1993). A Comparison of Experts' and High Tech Students' Ethical Beliefs in Computer-related Situations, Journal of Business Ethics (12), 359-370.

Berenbeim, R.E. (1992).Corporate Ethics Practices, The Conference Board, New York, 7-10.

Calluzzo, V. and C. J. Cante (2004). Ethics in Information Technology and Software Use, Journal of Busines Ethics (51), 301-312.

Classon, D. L. and T. J. Dormody (1994). Analyzing data Measured by Individual Likert-Type Items, Journal of Agricultural Education, 35(4), 31-35.

Couger, J. Daniel (1989).Preparing IS Students to Deal with Ethical Issues, MIS Quarterly, June, . 210-218.

Harrington, Susan (1996). Effect of Codes of Ethics and Personal Denial of Responsibility on Computer Abuse Judgments and Intentions, MIS Quarerly, September, 257-278.

Hilton, Thomas (2000). Information Systems Ethics: A Practitioner Survey, Journal of Business Ethics (28), 279-284.

Im, J. and S. Hartman (1990) Rethinking the Issue of Whether IS People Are Different From Non-IS People, MIS Quarterly March, 1-2.

Johnson, D.G. and J. Snapper (1984). Ethical Issues in the Use of Computers, Wadsworth, Belmont, CA..

Jones, T.M. (1991). Ethical Decision making by Individuals in Organizations: An Issue-Contingent Model, Academy of Management Review 16(2), 366-395.

Leventhal, L.M., K. E. Instone, and D. W. Chilson (1992). Another View of Computer Science Ethics: Patterns of Responses Among Computer Scientists, Journal Systems Software 17(1), 49-60.

Miller, K. (1989) Integrating Computer Ethics into the Computer Science Curriculum, Computer Science Education (1), 37-52.

Paradice, D.B. (1990) Ethical Attitudes of Entry-Level MIS Personal, Information and Management (18), 143-151.

Parker, D.B. (1979). Ethical Conflicts in Computer Science and Technology. Menlo Park, California, USA: AFIPS Press.

Pearson, J.M., L. Crosby, and J. P. Shim (1996). Modeling the Relative Importance of Ethical Behavior Criteria: A Simulation of Information Systems Professionals' Ethical Decisions, Journal strategic Information Systems 5(4), 275-291.

Prior, M., S. Rogerson, and B. Fairweather (2002). The Ethical Attitudes of Information systems Professional: Outcomes of an Initial Survey, Telematics and Informatics (19), 21-36.

Slater, D. (1991) New Crop of IS Pros on Shaky Ground, Computerworld, 90.

SPA/BSA (1997). Software Publishers Association/Business Software Alliance joint commissioned study: 1996 Global Piracy Report, International Planning and Research, 1997.

Straub, D.W. (1986) Controlling Computer Abuse: An Empirical Study of Effective Security Countermeasures. University of Minnesota, Institute for Research on Management Information Systems, Minneapolis, MN.

Whitman, M.E., A. M. Townsend, and A. R. Hendrickson (1999).Cross-national Differences in Computer-use Ethics: A Nine-country Study, Journal of International Business Studies 30(4), 673.

Alden C. Lorents, Northern Arizona University

Jo Mae Maris, Northern Arizona University

James N. Morgan, Northern Arizona University

Gregory L. Neal, Northern Arizona University
Table 1

A student suspected and found a loophole in the university computer's
security system that allowed him to access other students' records. He
told the system administrator about the loophole, but continued to
access others' records until the problem was corrected 2 weeks later.

A. The student's action in searching for the loophole was

B. The student's action in continuing to access others' records
for 2 weeks was

C. The system administrator's failure to correct the problem
sooner was

 A B

 Count Pct. Count Pct.

Very Ethical 2 2.99 0 0.00
Ethical 10 14.93 0 0.00
Somewhat Ethical 5 7.46 2 2.99
Questionable 12 17.91 0 0.00
Somewhat Unethical 5 7.46 2 2.99
Unethical 14 20.90 16 23.88
Very Unethical 19 28.36 47 70.15


Paired Signed S-Stat. p-H0
 Ranks Test for
Scenario A vs. -- -351.5 (<.001), 0
Scenario B vs. -


 Count Pct.

Very Ethical 0 0.00
Ethical 2 2.99
Somewhat Ethical 1 1.49
Questionable 29 43.28
Somewhat Unethical 12 17.91
Unethical 10 14.93
Very Unethical 13 19.40


Paired Signed S-Stat. p-H0
 Ranks Test for
Scenario A vs. -- -16 -0.87
Scenario B vs. -- 571.5 (<.001), 0

Table 2

A programmer at a bank realized that he had accidentally overdrawn his
checking account. He made a small adjustment in the bank's accounting
system so that his account would not have an additional service charge
assigned. As soon as he made a deposit that made his balance positive
again, he corrected the bank's accounting system.

 Count Pct.

Very Ethical 1 1.49
Ethical 2 2.99
Somewhat Ethical 4 5.97
Questionable 2 2.99
Somewhat Unethical 5 7.46
Unethical 26 38.81
Very Unethical 27 40.30

Table 3

A manager of a company that sells computer processing services bought
similar services from a competitor. She used the service for over a
year and always paid her bills promptly.

A. She used her access to the competitor's computer to try to break
the security system and cause the system to "crash."

B. She used her access to the competitor's computer to identify other
customers, and used this information to identify sales prospects.

 A B

 Count Pct. Count Pct.

Very Ethical 0 0.00 1 1.49
Ethical 1 1.49 2 2.99
Somewhat Ethical 1 1.49 5 7.46
Questionable 2 2.99 10 14.93
Somewhat Unethical 5 7.46 13 19.40
Unethical 14 20.90 19 28.36
Very Unethical 44 65.67 17 25.37
Paired Signed Ranks S-Stat. p-H0
 Test for
Scenario A vs. 428.00 (<.001), 0
 Scenario B

Table 4

Dilbert develops a set of programs that allow him to find vulnerable
computers on the internet and install "bots" on them. These bots can
be controlled by Dilbert to initiate e-mail from each computer
infected with a "bot."

A. Dilbert uses these bots to flood the site of a corporation that is
widely believed to have exploitive labor and environmental practices,
causing the businesses web site to be unavailable for several hours.
The bots cause no other damage to the affected systems and are not
used for any other purposes. Dilbert's behavior is

B. Dilbert uses these bots to take over the infected PCs when they are
not in use and use these computing resources to help him calculate the
value of PI 8 billion decimal places. His bots cause no damage to the
infected systems and never operate when there are not idle resources.
Dilbert's behavior is

C. Dilbert uses these bots to flood the site of an online business for
several hours. He then demands that this business pay $50,000 to an
"offshore" untraceable account and threatens to repeat the attack
until the business makes this payment. Dilbert's behavior is

 A B

 Count Pct. Count Pct.

Very Ethical 1 1.49 0 0.00
Ethical 1 1.49 1 1.49
Somewhat Ethical 2 2.99 3 4.48
Questionable 10 14.93 8 11.94
Somewhat Unethical 7 10.45 6 8.96
Unethical 22 32.84 28 41.79
Very Unethical 24 35.82 21 31.34


Paired Signed S-Stat. p-H0
 Ranks Test for
Scenario A vs. -24.5 -0.56
Scenario B vs.


 Count Pct.

Very Ethical 1 1.49
Ethical 1 1.49
Somewhat Ethical 3 4.48
Questionable 2 2.99
Somewhat Unethical 1 1.49
Unethical 8 11.94
Very Unethical 51 76.12


Paired Signed S-Stat. p-H0
 Ranks Test for
Scenario A vs. -214.5 (<.001), 0
Scenario B vs. -247 (<.001), 0

Table 5

A student legally obtained a copy of a popular word processing software
package. The software license agreement allowed use "for educational
purposes only" and required the student to remove the software from her
computer once she was no longer a student. She kept the word processing
software on her computer after graduation and used it

A. to support her volunteer work for a charitable organization.
Her Behavior was

B. for personal correspondence and job search activities.
Her Behavior was

C. in support of a for-profit business services company that she
developed. Her behavior was

 A B

 Count Pct. Count Pct.

Very Ethical 4 5.97 5 7.46
Ethical 3 4.48 2 2.99
Somewhat Ethical 4 5.97 6 8.96
Questionable 21 31.34 19 28.36
Somewhat Unethical 16 23.88 18 26.87
Unethical 14 20.90 14 20.90
Very Unethical 5 7.46 3 4.48


Paired Signed S-Stat. p-[H.sub.0]
 Ranks Test for
Scenario A vs. -2.00 -0.97
Scenario B vs.


 Count Pct.

Very Ethical 2 2.99
Ethical 1 1.49
Somewhat Ethical 3 4.48
Questionable 10 14.93
Somewhat Unethical 15 22.39
Unethical 20 29.85
Very Unethical 16 23.88


Paired Signed S-Stat. p-[H.sub.0]
 Ranks Test for
Scenario A vs. -290 (<.001), 0
Scenario B vs. -305.5 (<.001), 0

Table 6

Andy downloads a copy of a CD by a famous artist recorded on a major
record label from an illegal site.

A. He keeps this music on his own PC and MP3 player.
B. Andy's behavior is

B. He sends copies of this music to 3 of his friends.
Andy's behavior is

C. He makes copies of this music available (for free) to anyone
requesting them on the web. Andy's behavior is

D. He makes copies of this music on a CD and sells them.
Andy's behavior is

 A B C

 Count Pct. Count Pct. Count

Very Ethical 4 5.97 3 4.48 3
Ethical 2 2.99 1 1.49 2
Somewhat 4 5.97 1 1.49 2
Questionable 14 20.90 8 11.94 4
Somewhat 12 17.91 11 16.42 7
Unethical 16 23.88 17 25.37 21
Very Unethical 15 22.39 26 38.81 30

 B C

Paired Signed S-Stat. p-H0 S-Stat.
Ranks Test for
Scenario A vs. -300.00 (<.001), 0 -367
Scenario B vs. -85.5
Scenario C vs.

 C D
 Count Pct. Count Pct.

Very Ethical 3 4.48 1 1.49
Ethical 2 2.99 0 0.00
Somewhat 2 2.99 1 1.49
Questionable 4 5.97 1 1.49
Somewhat 7 10.45 2 2.99
Unethical 21 31.34 8 11.94
Very Unethical 30 44.78 54 80.60

 C D

Paired Signed S-Stat. p-H0 S-Stat. p - H0
Ranks Test for
Scenario A vs. -367 (<.001), 0 -580 (<.001), 0
Scenario B vs. -85.5 0.00, 0 -315 (<.001), 0
Scenario C vs. S (<.001), 0

Table 7

At a concert, Mandy buys a copy of a CD self produced by a local band.

A. She makes electronic copies of this music and sends them to 3 of her
friends. Mandy's behavior is

B. She makes copies of this music available (for free) to anyone
requesting them on the web. Mandy's behavior is

C. She makes copies of this music on a CD and sells them. Mandy's
behavior is

 A B

 Count Pct. Count

Very Ethical 2 2.99 2
Ethical 5 7.46 3
Somewhat Ethical 3 4.48 5
Questionable 22 32.84 16
Somewhat Unethical 11 16.42 8
Unethical 18 26.87 18
Very Unethical 6 8.96 15
Paired Signed Ranks S- Stat.
Test for
Scenario A vs.-- -180.00
Scenario B vs.--


 Pct. Count Pct.

Very Ethical 2.99 1 1.49
Ethical 4.48 0 0.00
Somewhat Ethical 7.46 0 0.00
Questionable 23.88 3 4.48
Somewhat Unethical 11.94 4 5.97
Unethical 26.87 18 26.87
Very Unethical 22.39 41 61.19
Paired Signed Ranks p - H0 S- Stat. p - H0
Test for
Scenario A vs.-- 0.00, 0 -733 (<.001), 0
Scenario B vs.-- -564 (<.001), 0

Table 8: Chi-Square Tests for Differences in Ethical Valuations
Between IS Students and General Business Majors


 A B C D

 Z-Value Z-Value Z-Value Z-Value

Scenario 1 -2.00 * -1.01 -1.43
Scenario 2 0.49
Scenario 3 0.16 -2.46 *
Scenario 4 -0.49 -0.42 -1.17
Scenario 5 -1.47 -0.99 -1.08
Scenario 6 -1.50 -1.41 -1.47 -0.91
Scenario 7 -2.54 * -1.54 -0.39

Table 9: Summary Results

Scenario M B C D

1. Loophole in Computer System
 A. Student searches for loophole su -351 -16
 B. Student accesses other student's vu 571
 C. System Administrator fails to su
 correct problem on a timely basis
2. Company manager using a competitors
similar services
 A. Tries to break security system to vu 428
 cause competitors system to crash
 B. Used access to identify customers u
 for sales prospect
3. Programmer at bank makes change in
code to eliminate a fee
 Code is changed back to original as u
 soon as the balance is updated
4. Population of "bots" on computers
using the Internet
 A. Causes a website of a company with u -24 -214
 questionable labor and environmental
 practices to be unavailable for a few
 B. Causes infected PCs in companies to u -247
 calculate Pi to 8 billion decimals
 when those PCs have idle resources
 C. Causes degraded service of an online vu
 site for hours and demands a ransom
 to remove the "bots"
5. Student's use of software for
educational use only
 A. Uses the software as a volunteer for su -200 -290
 charitable organizations
 B. Uses the software for correspondence su -305
 and job search activities
 C. Uses the software for a for-profit u
 business services company she started
6. Download of a music CD by a famous
artist on a major record label
 A. Uses the music on personal PC and su -300 -367 -580
 MP3 player
 B. Sends copies of music to 3 friends u -85 -315
 C. Makes copies of music available to u -253
 anyone accessing his website
 D. Makes copies on CDs and sells them vu
7. Purchase of CD sold by a local band
 A. Makes copies on CD to give to u -180 -733
 B. Sends copies on CD to anyone u -564
 requesting the CD on her website
 C. Makes copies on CD and sells them vu

Column M--Median response (Very Ethical, Ethical, Somewhat Ethical,
Questionable, Somewhat Unethical, Unethical, Very Unethical

Columns B, C, D--Wilcoxin signed-rank value for differences in paired
responses. Example: 1A (minus value) is much less of an ethical breach
compared to 1B. 1A and 1C are about the same. 1B (plus value) is much
more of an ethical breach as compared to 1C.
COPYRIGHT 2006 The DreamCatchers Group, LLC
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2006 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

Article Details
Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback
Author:Lorents, Alden C.; Maris, Jo Mae; Morgan, James N.; Neal, Gregory L.
Publication:Academy of Information and Management Sciences Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jul 1, 2006
Previous Article:Development of web-based decision support system for business process reengineering in a health-care system.
Next Article:The probability of winning and the effect of home-field advantage: the case of Major League Baseball.

Related Articles
Ethical orientations of future American executives: what the value profiles of business school students portend.
Effect of Student Attitude to Course Format on Learning Performance: An Empirical Study in Web vs. Lecture Instruction.
Business Software Alliance Concerned About College Students' Cavalier Attitude Toward Illegally Copying Software; Ethical Stance Could Be Taken Into...
Student perceptions of a hybrid course.
From the university to the elementary classroom: students' experiences in learning to integrate technology in instruction.
Ethics Resource Center Launches 'Donate Your Data' Program.
Trends in students' perceptions of the ethicality of selected computer activities.
University student ethics: the differential explanatory effect of locus of control.
New report casts doubt on student morals.

Terms of use | Copyright © 2017 Farlex, Inc. | Feedback | For webmasters