Chinese Ethics: An Empirical Study of Idealism and Relativism

William E. Allen, Robert Lloyd, Roland Peer


The purpose of this empirical study is to examine the relationships between ethical views of certain Chinese demographics and to consider different trends that may affect academic and business considerations in the future pertaining to East-West interaction. This study utilizes Forsyth’s Ethics Position Questionnaire (EPQ) to assess the ethical views of 401 Chinese undergraduate students in a rural province of Central China. Regression analyses are applied to investigate the following hypotheses: In a new Chinese context, the EPQ is applicable for assessing the ethical views of Chinese undergraduate students in rural China. Rural Chinese undergraduate student EPQ results are demonstrative of, and, in view of prior studies, are predictive of changes in Chinese ethical considerations. Rural Chinese undergraduate student EPQ results reflect long held Eastern worldview approaches however, in view of prior studies, there is some increasing similarity with Western EPQ outcomes. The findings of this study support the acceptance of the first and third null hypotheses. The practical implications of this study include an understanding that China, though it is rapidly equating with Western levels of market technology and sophistication, continues to resist Western ideals and ethics. Rather, the blending of Western and Eastern principles will continue to evolve and the Chinese worldview will continue to be dominated by the goals and needs of the Chinese State in a reflection of the millennia old culture. The value of this study is that it updates data relating to Chinese ethical approaches in a fast-changing Chinese and global marketplace. Secondly, it clarifies the different considerations and approaches needed when Westerners are dealing with Chinese counterparts in academia and/or business. Lastly, it posits current and future trends likely to affect East-West relationships in these realms.

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Business and Management Studies     ISSN 2374-5916 (Print)     ISSN 2374-5924 (Online)

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