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DU Professor Finds Students See CEOs in Mostly Positive Light

Despite the recent tarnishing of the image of chief executive officers (CEOs), such as scandals involving Tyco, WorldCom, Adelphia and Enron, business students still see CEOs in a positive light, according to a new study by a Duquesne University business ethics professor.

When asked to indicate which attribute best describes a CEO, a vast majority of students picked “hard working,” “intelligent” and “competent,” reported Dr. Jim Weber, professor of business ethics and director of the Beard Center for Leadership in Ethics at Duquesne.

However, nearly half of the students surveyed also considered CEOs “greedy.” More than 30 percent thought of CEOs as both “self-centered” and “socially minded.”

While about 8 percent of the students believed CEOs were “dangerous,” nearly the same percentage saw CEOs as “caring.” At the same time, about 15 percent of the students called CEOs “short-sighted” and 17 percent saw the leaders as “dishonest.”

“While the news of the students’ perceptions of CEOs is mixed, the study shows incredible consistent responses among those surveyed, regardless of the school or geographic location involved,” Weber said. “Business students also see a vast need for improvement, since many of them perceive CEOs to be greedy and not caring or socially minded. Thus, the need for the virtuous CEO remains, and emphasizing aspects of a virtuous CEO for our business students continues to be a quest for our business schools. This also might point to the importance of courses in business ethics for future business leaders.”

To complete this study, Weber surveyed 383 undergraduate business students from Ball State, Bucknell, Butler, Duquesne and Suffolk universities and Edgewood College. Few studies in the past have examined how business students perceive leaders in the field.

Duquesne University

Founded in 1878, Duquesne is consistently ranked among the nation's top Catholic universities for its award-winning faculty and tradition of academic excellence. Duquesne, a campus of nearly 9,500 graduate and undergraduate students, has been nationally recognized for its academic programs, community service and commitment to sustainability. Follow Duquesne University on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.