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Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to explore the ethical dimensions in China. It reviews the extant business ethics literature on China, collects data on ethical conduct from a large Chinese university, and analyzes the data to examine emerging trends. Design/methodology/approach – Factor analysis and multidimensional scaling (MDS) are applied to an established survey instrument after reliability is confirmed. Findings – Principal-components factor analysis uncovers six main factors. MDS further reduces the explanatory variables into four ethical dimensions, while increasing the number of useable observations. These four dimensions are then correlated with some demographic and psychographic variables. Results reveal four quadrants with different characteristics: Quadrant I “Unsympathetic, ethically challenged, self centered” have lower grade-point index (GPA); Quadrant II “Ethically challenged, other directed” have higher GPA, watch more TV, and are more likely to be female; Quadrant III “Community orientation, ethically centered” are more likely to be female with higher class ranking and Quadrant IV “Challenge avoidance, controlling, religious” are more likely to have a lower GPA and lower level of religiosity. Research limitations/implications – Inferences from this paper may be limited to the sample group. Further expansion of the paper may suggest additional insights. Originality/value – Ethics is often ignored in China's business education. While well researched in the USA, this topic is rarely studied in China. This is of concern to businesses looking for managers in the Chinese market and for individuals and researchers who want a framework to better understand ethical dimensions of Chinese management.


This article was originally published in Competitiveness Review: An International Business Journal Incorporating Journal of Global Competitiveness, 20(1). View the article online at:

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Competitiveness Review