Universitat Jaume I (SPAIN)
About this paper:
Appears in: ICERI2009 Proceedings
Publication year: 2009
Pages: 1141-1152
ISBN: 978-84-613-2953-3
ISSN: 2340-1095
Conference name: 2nd International Conference of Education, Research and Innovation
Dates: 16-18 November, 2009
Location: Madrid, Spain
Today is widely acknowledged the benefits of corporate responsibility for good business. This growing perspective should entail a change in business education. In fact, the attitudes of tomorrow’s business women and men about good business behaviour and good decision making for the success of their business wellbeing of their local and global environment are created to a remarkable extent during their years in business schools (Lämsä et al, 2008). However, some authors (e.g. Ghoshal, 2005; Kashyap et al, 2006) reveal that business school education is still inadequate to address the changes in ethical behaviour among future business professionals, due to business schools mainly focus on theories and economic models which emphasize shareholder values over stakeholder model. Along this line, the main objective of this paper is to identify the role of business schools on the attitudes and values of business students on corporate social responsibility. Specifically, the main research questions we address in this paper are: How is a well-run company for business students? What are their attitudes towards the responsibilities of business in society? Does the cultural context influence on students’ attitudes towards corporate social responsibility? What is the students’ perception of what the ethical climate is and what it should be? Do the students’ gender and study phase (beginning or ending) impact on their attitudes?

Our sample comprises 174 Spanish undergraduate students in business. The findings of this paper suggest that Spanish students define a well-run company from a stakeholder perspective, emphasizing the role of employees and customers. We also offer a cross-cultural analysis comparing our results with those obtained in a recently Finnish study (Lämsä et al., 2008) and with the Aspen ISIB survey (Aspen Institute, 2008). We find that Spanish results are more closed to Finnish results than to the Aspen ISIB survey results. For instance, the Aspen ISIB respondents viewed maximizing value for shareholders as the most important responsibility of a company, whereas Spanish and Finnish students evaluated customer needs, well-being employees, high-quality goods/services and laws and regulations as the primary responsibilities. Other notable difference refers to the importance of the work stability for Spanish students; they consider it as one of the main characteristics of a well-run company, whereas the American respondents considered it as the less important.

This study also analyses the differences between perception of what the ethical climate is and what it should be. The results indicate that respondents tend to strongly agree that there should be a higher relationship between good business ethics and positive business outcomes than there is in the business world. Furthermore, gender was found to have a significant effect upon how students view business ethics. Although there was not much difference between males and females on their perceptions on what the ethical climate should be, there was a wide gap between the sexes on what the ethical climate is. Female students show significantly more favorable attitude towards ethical behaviors than males.

social corporate responsibility, students attitudes, business education, gender.