Ethical Decision Making and Software Piracy: An Examination of Gender Differences

Suzanne C. Wagner, Niagara University

Individuals are faced with the many opportunities to steal what does not belong to them. Software is no exception. The decision to pirate software may be related to an individual''s attitudes toward other ethical issues. A person''s ethical and moral predispositions and the judgments that they use to make decisions may be consistent across various ethical dilemmas and may indicate their likelihood to pirate software. This paper investigates the relationship between gender and a theoretical ethical decision making process that an individual uses when evaluating ethical or unethical situations. An ethical decision making model was studied for general unethical scenarios and for the unethical behavior of software piracy. The research model was tested via path analysis using structural equation modeling and was found to be appropriate for the sample data. Results indicate that an individual''s ethical decision making process is consistent for general ethical issues and for the specific ethical issue of software piracy. It is expected that further investigation into the decision making process may reveal gender differences regarding ethical issues and the opportunity to pirate software.

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Updated 05/20/2006