A growing number of business students believe a company's responsibilities extend beyond the boardroom and into the local community, a new study shows.

In a survey of 1,943 MBA students at 15 business schools across the nation, 26 percent said they felt businesses had broad social responsibilities, up from just 15 percent in a similar survey five year ago, according to the Aspen Institute Center for Business Education, a Colo.-based nonprofit group.

Yet, less than half of the students surveyed said they would speak up against employer practices that clashed with their own business ethics. Instead, most said they would likely seek a new job.

The heightened importance students put on making a positive contribution to society tended to decrease over the course of their MBA program, the study found.