A study in which more than half of surveyed graduate business students nationwide admitted to cheating on MBA exams is set to be released this week.
Donald L. McCabe, professor of management and global business at Rutgers Business School and co-author of the study "Academic Dishonesty in Graduate Business Programs: Prevalence, Causes, and Proposed Action" said cheating is part of the nature of business school.
The report, McCabe said, is to be published later this week in Academy of Management Learning & Education. More than 5,300 students were surveyed at 32 graduate schools across the United States and Canada.
"I think students cheat because of the characteristics of the business schools themselves," McCabe said. "It's all about getting power, money and taking shortcuts."
Fifty-six percent of graduate business students admitted to cheating, McCabe added, while only 47 percent of their non-business counterparts confessed to it.
Although both engineering and communications majors are close behind statistically, McCabe said students in business schools tend to cheat more.
He attributed this to the fact that business exams, especially in marketing and accounting, tend to have a "right answer," which causes a student to glance at someone else's paper. Contrasted with an essay exam, he said conclusive single answers are more subject to cheating.
However, Mark Matosian, director of University of Wisconsin MBA student services, does not find academic dishonesty nearly as prevalent in the UW program.
"[The students] are focused on learning, not grades," he said.
Although he acknowledged the UW business program is extremely competitive, he said that once accepted, students understand that they are already in and there is no need to cheat to get ahead.
Matosian added that each student must sign an honor code at orientation, and they also sign a statement agreeing each exam and assignment is entirely their work. He believes this eliminates the urge to cheat every time, adding that there were no incidents of reported cheating last year.
Some UW business undergraduates, though, don't believe the honor code makes a lot of difference.
"We don't really talk much about [the honor code], so I doubt it is in the forefront of anyone's mind during exams," UW senior and business school student Dennis Nevinski said.
But other business school undergrads agreed with Matosian, maintaining that once in the business school, cheating tends to diminish because one of the hardest parts is simply gaining admission.
In addition to signing an honor code, UW business undergrads are required to take an ethics course.
"I'm not really sure how effective [the ethics course] is considering they don't cover situations that someone in a business setting would be put up against," UW senior and business school student Josh Yach said.
Yach believes a business-oriented ethics course would be helpful in reducing cheating.
Regardless of whether the honor code or ethics course is effective, both the undergraduate business students and Matosian have witnessed a much lower rate of cheating than McCabe's survey found.