Julia Steinberg Academic integrity…lessons for now and later

Business school is about finding your angle – finding the resources and opportunities that will help you get ahead. The classes are rigorous, many students work during the school year, some have familial commitments and others participate in extra-curricular organisations and clubs that require a great deal of time. Some do it all without missing a step; others struggle to find enough time in the day to manage it all.

The stress that comes with being heavily involved and inundated with commitments is overwhelming. Prioritising tasks helps a great deal, but nevertheless some students are tempted to cut corners to maintain control and succeed. Cutting corners on academic integrity, however, should be out of the question. Although interpretation of academic integrity can take many forms as each student navigates his or her business school career, all students should adhere to the fundamental principle of academic integrity.

As graduate business students, we come from various countries, undergraduate institutions, professional backgrounds and cultures. Although specific academic integrity policies may differ among educational institutions, integrity is a universal principle that applies to all situations. Many students do not intentionally set out to cross the line and break their school’s academic integrity policy; they sometimes do so without realising it. Our responsibility as students is to maintain absolute integrity and ensure we have a clear understanding of our individual school’s policy so that we don’t find ourselves in a situation that could compromise our academic career.

Weatherhead professor of accountancy Mark Taylor explains that “Research shows that when three factors are present, the likelihood that employee fraud will occur is highest. Those factors are (1) opportunity, (2) pressure or incentive and (3) willingness to rationalise such conduct. In the corporate world, control systems designed to minimise opportunity and maximise perception of detection help alleviate perceived pressures and make it clear that rationalising aberrant conduct is not acceptable to eliminate most employee fraud. The same factors operate in the academic world, and systems designed to eliminate violations of academic integrity have the same purpose: keeping honest students honest.”

Integrity remains just as important after we graduate. Every good business is built upon a foundation of honesty. In order to truly connect with clients, businesses must foster a relationship of trust.