Attitude toward ethical behavior in computer use: a shifting model

Lori N.K. Leonard (University of Tulsa, Management Information Systems Department, College of Business Administration, Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA)
Timothy Paul Cronan (University of Arkansas, Information Systems Department, Walton College of Business, Fayetteville, Arkansas, USA)

Industrial Management & Data Systems

ISSN: 0263-5577

Publication date: 1 December 2005



In this study the researchers attempt to identify factors that could influence an individual's attitude toward ethical behavior in the information systems (IS) environment and compare them to the findings of an earlier study to determine any changes.


A sample of university students is used to assess environmental influences (societal, belief system, personal, professional, legal, and business), moral obligation, consequences of the action, and gender, in order to determine what influences an individual's attitude toward a behavior. Discriminant analysis is used to assess the factor influences.


The findings indicate that many factors influence attitude toward ethical decisions and are dependent upon the type of ethical issue involved. Moreover, based on two time periods, the ethical attitude influencers have shifted over time. The gender findings indicate that attitude influencers are also dependent on the sex of the individual.


The findings show that attitude influencers have shifted over time (since an earlier study), which means that organizations must periodically reassess their employees' ethical climate and adjust their ethics' programs as attitude influencers change. The findings also show that training programs need to focus on the different influencers for males and females.



Leonard, L. and Paul Cronan, T. (2005), "Attitude toward ethical behavior in computer use: a shifting model", Industrial Management & Data Systems, Vol. 105 No. 9, pp. 1150-1171.

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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