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Perceptions of ethics in IS: how age can affect awareness

Sara Helen Wilford (Department of Technology, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK)
Kutoma Jacqueline Wakunuma (Department of Technology, De Montfort University, Leicester, UK)

Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society

ISSN: 1477-996X

Article publication date: 4 November 2014




This aim of this paper was to highlight the awareness of ethical issues across the group of information systems (IS) professionals from a range of geographical regions.


An initial survey was conducted that informed in-depth interviews with 26 IS professionals from across the globe. The study identified that around 70 per cent of the sample were over 50 years old. This provided an opportunity to consider age-related differences in perception regarding ethical awareness of both current and emerging technologies.


The project revealed that the more mature IS professionals had a significantly higher level of awareness and perceived understanding regarding the importance of ethical issues than the younger IS professionals.

Research limitations/implications

The research was limited to IS professionals and so the findings do not generalise further. Future research would be beneficial to find out if the higher level of ethical awareness is also evident across older people in general or whether it is specific to technology professionals.

Practical implications

IS professionals need to be exposed to high standards and expectations of ethical behaviour from senior colleagues, as well as embedding this within technical education.

Social implications

Caution with regards to youth culture and youthitisation of the workforce needs to be exerted to avoid rash decision-making and short-termism, which could undermine progress and development. A change in the view of employers to older workers will also require a change in attitudes across Western society, particularly as demographics continue to skew towards an aging population.


This paper provides new insight into the ethical awareness of older employees and goes some way to dispel the myths surrounding stereotypes of older workers as being fearful of technology and resistant to change.



Helen Wilford, S. and Jacqueline Wakunuma, K. (2014), "Perceptions of ethics in IS: how age can affect awareness", Journal of Information, Communication and Ethics in Society, Vol. 12 No. 4, pp. 270-283.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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