Theses and Dissertations - UTB/UTPA

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


International Business

First Advisor

Dr. Arturo Z. Vasquez-Parraga

Second Advisor

Dr. Hale Kaynak

Third Advisor

Dr. Jane LeMaster


This study examines the issue of sex differences in ethical orientations and suggests that the enactment of social roles and the associated use of information processing strategies influence the presence of sex differences in managers' ethical orientations. Managers' ethical judgments and intentions to use punishments or rewards to encourage ethical behavior are the two dependent variables in the study.

A 3 (prime: gender-role, work-role, no role) by 4 (ethical condition: positive egoist/positive utilitarian, positive egoist/negative utilitarian, negative egoist/positive utilitarian, and negative egoist/negative utilitarian) experimental design was applied in the efforts to answer the main research question: What is the role of a subject's sex in the explanation of their ethical orientation? This design entailed the gathering of data from a probabilistic sample of 4000 U.S. managers. Two thousand of these managers were accounting and human resource managers and two thousand were sales and marketing managers. Furthermore, each group of managers was composed of 1000 males and 1000 females. The effective response rate for the survey was 11.2%.

The results of this research show that the influence of a subject's sex on their ethical orientation is most evident when a gender-role prime is present. When a gender role prime was not present, sex differences in ethical judgment and intention to punish or reward subordinate behavior were not significant. Furthermore, when subjects were exposed to a work role prime, those that occupied similar work roles did not differ in their ethical judgments and intentions based on their sex. Subjects that differed in their work roles, however, differed significantly in their ethical orientations. This suggests that a subject's ethical orientation is dependent on the social role they are enacting and because individuals generally enact multiple social roles, their ethical orientation is not inherent.

The teleology evaluation in this study was separated into egoist, or individual consequences, and utilitarian, or organizational consequences, so that the separate effects of these components on subjects' ethical judgments and intentions could be studied under the separate prune conditions. It was also found that the egoist component of the teleology evaluation, along with the ethical judgment variable, were the main predictors of intentions for subjects enacting agentic work roles. In contrast, the utilitarian variable and the ethical judgment variable were the main predictors of intentions for subjects enacting communal work roles. These findings lend credence to the effort to separate the teleology evaluation in the H-V model of ethics.


Copyright 2000 Jason Blair MacDonald. All Rights Reserved.

Granting Institution

University of Texas-Pan American