The Effectiveness of Business Ethics in Education and Today’s Workplace
October 13th, 2012
What do Bernard Madoff, Kenneth Lay and Rob Blagojevich all have in common? They all operated with no apparent ethical behavior even though each had received educational backgrounds in which ethical business practices were taught. As L. Zingales states, “While every firm can have its bad apples, when these apples are at the top, it suggests that a company has either a corrupt culture or a defective selection process, or both.” (Zingales, Jul 16, 2012). In Madoffs case, the Ponzi scheme had been going on since the early 1990’s (Morrissey, Aug 11, 2009). Under the direction of ...view middle of the document...
“When Lee Igel's students ask him why New York University doesn't require them to take business ethics courses, the associate professor reminds them of the codes of values that every scandalized organization handed out to new hires and plastered to every available surface.” (Wecker. Sep 20, 2011).
"Did it make a difference? Of course not," Igel tells his management and organizational behavior classes at NYU's School of Continuing and Professional Studies. "[Students] did not need to learn the difference between right and wrong ... [but] how to apply the difference between right and wrong to their work" (Wecker. Sep 20, 2011).
Additionally another school, University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, doesn’t even have an ethics course in its catalog of classes.
“The University of Chicago's Booth School of Business is one of the few business schools that doesn't seem to have a business ethics class in its course catalog. In a chat on the school's website in April 2011, Ellie McDonald, associate director of admissions and marketing for Booth's evening and weekend M.B.A. programs, told a prospective student, "Chicago Booth does not have any classes specifically targeted to ethics, however, each professor incorporates that topic in their lectures” (Wecker. Sep 20, 2011).
On the other hand, there is evidence that education in business ethics is a worthwhile endeavor as it creates an awareness of moral issues in students as well improve their ability to cope with complex ethical decisions (Cagle, Glasgo, & Holmes, pg 77). The traditional method of teaching ethics in a single course only has a short-lived effect. Instead there has been a shift in attitude toward integrating business ethics into more courses in a business curriculum (Cagle, Glasgo, & Holmes, pg 77). In teaching business ethics, however, there are several factors to consider:
“Scholarly inquiry has commonly focused on questions of (1) who should teach business ethics; (2) what should be taught in a business ethics component or course; (3) where or in what courses should business ethics be taught; and, (4) when would business ethics education be of greatest value to the student (freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior year?). The results of those inquiries seem to indicate that:
1. No one single type of instructor is best qualified to teach business ethics;
neither the philosopher nor the theologian is sufficiently familiar with
widespread business practices. The business practitioner is usually unfamiliar
with ethical theory;^
2. The content of business ethics courses should relate as closely as
possible to the students' own life experiences^ and that textbook casework
might not be effective because of the lack of experience and sophistication
possessed by traditional college students;^
3. Business ethics should be integrated into all business courses and not
left to a single course often taught by those unfamiliar with the broad
spectrum of business...