Unethical Behavior and Cheating

Since entering the corporate world four years ago, unethical behavior and cheating have come up as frequent topics at work. In fact, there is so much cheating in every single organization experienced, I have become interested in becoming an auditor or investigating financial crimes. These situations literally make an organization collapse from the inside-out.

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Student cheating, like cheating in any other business setting, undermines legitimate, hard-working students from reaching attainable goals. Eventually, all cheating will be exposed as humans are not perfect, leading to public distrust of a company or university, then a loss of investments or business. It is necessary to maintain integrity in an organization from a legal standpoint in regard to financial documents, since past company scandals have led to stricter regulations and enforcement in the United States. People lose careers, life savings, and potentially earn jail time from cheating in business or school.

Businesses pressure for results, especially when a company is declining so they can make up the lost earning potentials from the past. This is simply impossible, instead strategic plans that fail should be modified to work, instead of simply increasing the workload on bottom level employees. Employees fear for their job security and production to the point they would rather cheat than be honest to survive.” …not only in the case of Enron and other corporate scandals but also in a growing body of academic research demonstrating that giving people specific, challenging performance goals causes them to cheat on tasks or misrepresent their performance (Healy, 2016).” Instead, many companies do not consider cutting their largest expenses, such as executive salaries or bonuses, and would rather fire an entire department of a company for not reaching an impossible goal. Many companies want a short-term financial benefit from their actions without concern for legal ramifications later, rather they could have created a long-term, stable foundation for which to grow upon. Leader’s that fear for the failure of a company or the loss of their salaries (much like lower level employees with low morale) do not make logical decisions, nor provide good results. If people could change their personal model, so work would be less of a competition between employees and more so a group of people working together to reach a common goal, ethics may improve. “Our government… teaches the whole people by its example. If the government becomes the lawbreaker (or moral lawbreaker), it breeds contempt for law; it invites every man to become a law unto himself; it invites anarchy. Louis D. Brandeis”

If all of the businesses I have worked for had cheating that impacted my performance, it is only logical to assume it is happening at schools as well. In a study of United States high schools, 56% of students had cheated on a test and 32% plagiarized content from the internet (Fugate, 2018). Cheating causes everyone to have higher standards, whether that is additional rules to follow after getting caught, or so many people did better than average due to cheating the overall expectation is elevated. Many companies have an ethics department; thus, schools should also proactively monitor for potential cheating. Turn it in is a great tool if it is used for every student for every assignment. It gives everyone a level moral standing to begin with, and thus proving yourself without a chance to be discriminated against. This takes the burden off of teacher’s for trying to catch cheating, especially embedded in a long essay for example. According to Reedy, if goals are attainable with an emphasis on following the rules first and foremost, this should prevent cheating. Thus, assignments should be clear about content and format, with the expectation of submitting to turn it in every time.

In conclusion, it is not okay to cheat on exams or papers, as the effect is far reaching beyond a single event. It is a given that people will cheat if they need it to get ahead, and those with strong morals will not let another person’s behavior dictate their actions. If cheating becomes widespread amongst most students at a university, it undermines the value of the education as it is not serving its purpose. Honest people are now at a disadvantage if cheating is widespread, as standards may increase. We have discussed the direct parallels between cheating in academic and business settings, and how they both have negative impacts on the entire organizations.

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