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Business ethics development of working adults: a study in Vietnam

Lam D. Nguyen (Department of Management, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania, Bloomsburg, Pennsylvania, USA)
Bahaudin G Mujtaba (The H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA)
Frank J. Cavico (The H. Wayne Huizenga School of Business and Entrepreneurship, Nova Southeastern University, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, USA)

Journal of Asia Business Studies

ISSN: 1558-7894

Article publication date: 5 January 2015




The purpose of this paper is to ascertain if age, gender, management experience and government work experience actually make a difference in the ethical development of respondents in Vietnam, an emerging economy in Southeast Asia.


A quantitative self-administered survey was conducted with a convenience sample of Vietnamese working adults obtained through educational institutions, businesses and entrepreneurs and private and public sector organizations. This study used Clark and Clark’s (1966) Personal Business Ethics Scores measure. The Vietnamese version questionnaire was distributed, and a total of 704 surveys were fully completed and analyzed.


Statistically significant differences were found in the variables of age, gender and government work experience. Management experience did not lead to any significant differences. Consequently, Kohlberg’s moral development theory regarding ethical development is partially supported.

Research limitations/implications

This study used a convenience sample population. Future studies can compare specific populations in different parts of the country with similar working backgrounds and demographic variables. The small sample size is not necessarily representative of an entire country or the culture in Vietnam. Furthermore, it would be meaningful to investigate the relationship between ethical development and the demographic variables among other Asian countries near Vietnam. Finally, longitudinal studies can be implemented by future researchers to investigate the effects of changes in demographic variables on moral development.

Practical implications

Females should be studied more to determine the factors that they consider when making decisions that impact others. Having longer time “socializing” with organizational values might be a stronger influence on ethical behaviors of a person. Vietnamese people are less tolerant for unethical behaviors when they are much younger and when they are much older.

Social implications

The importance of ethics education programs at the national and organizational levels is underscored as a key element to combat corruption. Several specific recommendations on how to enhance the fight against corruption and bribery were provided.


This study contributes to the moral development theory research and sheds light on the impact of age, gender, government work experience and management experience gained through the development process on ethical decision-making of Vietnamese people. Academicians, managers, practitioners, government leaders and the like can benefit from the findings of this paper.



Nguyen, L.D., Mujtaba, B.G. and Cavico, F.J. (2015), "Business ethics development of working adults: a study in Vietnam", Journal of Asia Business Studies, Vol. 9 No. 1, pp. 33-53.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2015, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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