The study of business ethics has seldom shed light on small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) despite their theoretical and practical significance. Drawing from strain perspective, the purpose of this paper is to address this insufficiency and investigate SME owners’ ethical attitudes toward money-related deviances.Design/methodology/approachBased on a large sample of 741 Chinese SMEs, an OLS regression analysis was employed to test associated hypotheses. The robustness of results was additionally checked.FindingsThe results suggest that for stratification variables, education level is positively related to ethical attitudes, whereas household income level is surprisingly negatively associated with ethical attitudes; for materialism facets, success and happiness exert a negative impact on ethical attitudes as hypothesized, but centrality has no associated impact.Research limitations/implicationsThis study has examined both structural and motivational sources of personal strains on the ethical attitude of SME owners, while the characteristics of these strains could be explored in the future studies.Originality/valueThis study advances and complements the dominant behavior approach that emphasizes cognitive and other psychological processes in explaining individual ethical attitudes. It is also seemingly the first study to examine the influence of three materialism facets on entrepreneurial ethical attitudes.
International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research – Emerald Publishing
Published: Apr 4, 2019
Keywords: Entrepreneurs; SMEs; Motivation
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