The objective of this study was to assess whether, and how, the attitudes towards
business ethics of former South African business students have changed between
the early 1990s and 2010. The study used the Attitudes Toward Business Ethics
Questionnaire (ATBEQ) and applied a comparative analysis between leading
business schools in South Africa.
The findings of this study found a significant change in attitudes based on a set time
frame, with a trend towards stronger opinions on business ethics and espoused
values. Eleven factors came out as fundamental, although they were less able to
explain the variation in the attitudes than the previous study. A significant change in
the rankings of variables was noted and indicated a shift in attitude toward a
teleological moral philosophy as well as utilitarian motives. This shows a clear trend towards compliance-based ethics, which can be explained by the proliferation of
business legislation and regulation in the wake of recent corporate governance
failures and the subsequent global financial crisis.