Job-Related Ethical Judgment in the Finance Profession

15 Pages Posted: 10 Jan 2005


This article investigates the attitudes of 230 finance practitioners with respect to ethical issues in their industry. The respondents' ethical ideology is first measured on the scales of idealism and relativism. Respondents are asked to react to behavior in five scenarios relating to the financial world, ranging from advice on questionable tax avoidance techniques to illegal insider trading. Overall idealism and relativism levels are in line with those found in previous studies of businesspeople in non-financial occupations. Women tend to score higher on idealism and lower on relativism than men, and older respondents exhibit a similar pattern. Age seems to be the major determinant in responses given to professional scenarios; older respondents tend to be stricter in their views, while sex differences are less marked. This result may imply the profession would benefit from increased exposure to ethical issues integrated into academic finance courses and made a part of entry-level job orientation.

JEL Classification: G20, K22, Z13

Suggested Citation

Hartikainen, Outi and Torstila, Sami, Job-Related Ethical Judgment in the Finance Profession. Journal of Applied Finance, Vol. 14, No. 1, Spring/Summer 2004. Available at SSRN:

Outi Hartikainen

Gutta Ltd. ( email )

Tekniikantie 14
02150 Espoo

Sami Torstila (Contact Author)

Aalto University ( email )

P.O. Box 21210
Helsinki, 00101
+358 40 353 8069 (Phone)

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