Testing an Ethical Decision-Making Theory: The Case of Softlifting
Journal of Management Information Systems, Vol. 15, No. 1, pp. 213-237, 1998
Posted: 25 Mar 2012 Last revised: 27 Mar 2012
Date Written: January 1, 1998
There is a lack of both theoretical and empirical research on the process of ethical decision making in the domain of information Systems (IS). As a step in this direction, we describe and test a general ethical decision-making theory developed in the marketing discipline. We conducted a study on the ethical decision-making process of 243 entry-level IS Professionals with regard to softlifting — that is, illegal copying of software for personal use. The results show support for the applicability of the tested ethical decision-making theory to the domain of IS, specifically in the context of softlifting. Entry-level IS Professionals were found to use both deontological and teleological evaluations to arrive at an ethical judgment of a moral issue. Subsequently, moral intention to pursue softlifting behavior is primarily determined by the ethical judgment. These findings have implications for both research and practice.
Keywords: software piracy, softlifting, ethical decision making, computer ethics
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