Cheating their way into business?
Students pursuing master's degrees in business administration (MBA) cheat more than other U.S. graduate students, according to a study...
Students pursuing master's degrees in business administration (MBA) cheat more than other U.S. graduate students, according to a study for the Center for Academic Integrity at Duke University.
The study found 56 percent of MBA students acknowledged cheating, compared with 54 percent in engineering, 48 percent in education and 45 percent in law school.
"Business schools have a significant problem that should be addressed," said Donald McCabe, the study's lead author and a professor at Rutgers University.
Cheating is a problem at all schools, "even if deans at leading schools don't want to concede it," he said.
The study offered two main explanations for the cheating: The pressure-cooker atmosphere of business school leaves many students willing to compete by any means available, and corporate scandals have distorted the standards of many business students. The study also said faculty members at the schools don't do enough to stop cheating.
The survey, conducted from 2002 to 2004, asked 5,300 students at 54 institutions, including 623 students at 32 graduate business schools, if they ever cheated. The findings will be published this week in the journal Academy of Management Learning & Education.
Officials at top business schools such as Yale, Dartmouth, Stanford and Wharton said they didn't see much cheating. Honor codes that require students to sign a statement on each test saying they had not cheated — and some requiring students to report cheating by others — are a powerful deterrent, as are frequent classroom discussions about ethical behavior, they said.
Student participation in writing honor codes and serving on discipline committees also helps, they said.
At the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Vice Dean Anjani Jain said cheating is "quite rare." Each student fills out an evaluation at the end of each class that includes a question about whether cheating has been observed. Philadelphia-based Wharton, with 2,000 MBA students, has three to seven violations reported to its ethics committee each year, Jain said in an e-mail.
The Tuck School was ranked highest in the nation by recruiters for its students' academic integrity in a Wall Street Journal/Harris Interactive yearly survey of business schools published last week.
The study also suggested that faculty members sometimes enable cheating by not creating multiple versions of take-home exams and by sending mixed messages to students. For example, students are encouraged to participate in teams but told they cannot work together on some assignments, the report said.
Earlier studies found a high incidence of cheating among undergraduate business students. In 1997, McCabe, a professor of management and global business who is regarded by ethics professors as a leading researcher on cheating and plagiarism, found 84 percent of undergraduate business students said they cheated at least once, compared with 72 percent of engineering students and 66 percent of all students.
In a 1964 study, a Columbia University researcher reported that 66 percent of business students surveyed at 99 campuses said they cheated at least once.
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