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Gender, family background, cynicism and ethical sensitivity of future procurement professionals in a developing country context: evidence from Ugandan universities

Benjamin R. Tukamuhabwa (Department of Procurement and Logistics Management, Makerere University Business School, Kampala, Uganda)
Musa Mbago (Department of Procurement and Logistics Management, Makerere University Business School, Kampala, Uganda)
Henry Mutebi (Department of Procurement and Logistics Management, Makerere University Business School, Kampala, Uganda)
Mercy Kyoshabire (Department of Procurement and Logistics Management, Makerere University Business School, Kampala, Uganda)

International Journal of Ethics and Systems

ISSN: 2514-9369

Article publication date: 29 April 2022

Issue publication date: 5 January 2023

314

Abstract

Purpose

Some scholars argue that ethical awareness increases alongside work experience,whereas others agree that ethics education shapes ethical awareness and that cheating in college predicts unethical behaviour in subsequent professional environment. The purpose of this paper is therefore to investigate the level and antecedents of ethical sensitivity of future procurement professionals.

Design/methodology/approach

An exploratory descriptive survey of a sample of 303 final year procurement students from the two largest public Universities in Uganda was conducted. Using Statistical Package for (SPSS) and Amos Version 27, data were analysed by using means, standard deviations, exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses and correlation analysis.

Findings

The study revealed that future procurement professionals exhibit low levels of ethical sensitivity. However, contrary to the general observations from the extant literature, gender and family background of students do not determine both ethical sensitivity and cynicism. Moreover, this study establishes that cynicism is positively associated with instances that depict low ethical sensitivity.

Research limitations/implications

This paper contributes to providing an empirical understanding of the derivation of unethical behaviour in procurement practice. Grounded in Aristotle’s organic theory of state and moral habituation, this argues that future procurement professionals posses natural proclivities that trigger their social instincts and membership to multiple associations in actualising their innate potential for ethical behaviour. This supports the notion that humans are potentially virtuous, whereby morality is learned, imitated, emerges and perfects through repetitive actions and is therefore incremental.

Practical implications

The findings mirror what prevails in practice in Uganda, where procurement practitioners have been implicated in unethical practices regardless of their gender and family background. This signals that managers should not recruit or deploy procurement personnel based on gender or family background.

Originality/value

While research on ethical sensitivity of students has been focussed on other disciplines such as accounting, nursing and other business studies, this paper focusses on ethical sensitivity of procurement students aspiring to join a professional environment that is severely marred with unethical practices. Further, Aristotle’s moral habituation and organic theory of state invoked in this study underline the synergies of both nature and nurturing in inculcating ethicality in procurement professionals.

Keywords

Citation

Tukamuhabwa, B.R., Mbago, M., Mutebi, H. and Kyoshabire, M. (2023), "Gender, family background, cynicism and ethical sensitivity of future procurement professionals in a developing country context: evidence from Ugandan universities", International Journal of Ethics and Systems, Vol. 39 No. 1, pp. 81-106. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJOES-10-2020-0167

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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