Articles  |    |  January 5, 2016

A Review of the Impact of ACM Code of Conduct on Information Technology Moral Judgment and Intent

Article by Alan R. Peslak.
Published in Journal of Computer Information Systems.


One of the most widely recognized code of ethics in information technology (IT) is the ACM (Association for Computing Machinery) Code of Ethics. Adopted in 1992, the code covers many of the key ethical areas that are encountered in information technology practice. But this code has been lightly studied in the literature, including its recognition and its acceptance. Likewise, its effectiveness in influencing moral intent has not previously been established. This manuscript reviews selected key statements from the ACM Code of Ethics to determine the level of agreement with these statements. The surveyed group includes IT students, faculty, and staff. In general, agreement on all issues is found, though varying in degree. Next, the study analyzes the relationship between ACM code agreement and ethical intent. The relationships in nearly all cases are positive and significant. Finally, it examines the influence this code has among participants in a hypothetical hostile work situation. Specifically, it examines moral intent when a supervisor recommends an action directly contrary to the code. The difference between actions in a hostile situation versus no supervisor influence is found to be significant in some cases.