In this assignment, we got four questions to answer concerning business ethics in education. 1. To what extent can business education cause or prevent ethical infractions in business? Give arguments for and against. 2. Given the importance of situational factors in shaping ethical decision-making, what are the limitations posed by business ethics courses that focus on individual students? How would you design a course to focus primarily on situational issues? 3. What are the main factors encouraging business ethics education, and what are the main barriers to its further development and expansion? 4. Consider the aims and approach of the business ethics course that you are currently studying. What are these, and how effective is the approach for achieving these aims? What would you like to see done differently? I have implemented the questions into the essay, not quite literally, but answered chronologically.
To what extent can business education cause or prevent ethical infractions in business? There are arguments favouring and against implementing business ethics in organisations.
The arguments favouring are that the education can create a bigger understanding for the consequences of a decision and to the actions behind. The tools will help showing a possible outcome when used correctly. With use of the correct tools given and ethical theories, it will make it easier solving and understanding moral issues. Then through reasoning, making the morally correct decision might fall easier. Throughout the organisation, there would be more individually responsibility, which also could lead to a bigger trust within the organisation and towards the management. Some arguments against are that it would involve substantial costs changing the business infrastructure, and therefore difficult to gain acceptance for the changes. Since the economy is shifting so frequently, economist needs to be able to make a decision on a short notice. Economists who focuses on profit maximizing can find ethics as a constraint of reaching their goals.
Further, some say it is difficult to change the moral and ethics of adult people, in addition it might create more confusion within the business. So, given the importance of situational factors in shaping ethical decision-making, what are the limitations posed by business ethics courses that focus on individual students? When focusing individually in business ethics, there are some vital factors to consider. It is hardly or very seldom, that one would have to deal with ethical issues alone in real-life.
The book business ethics points out that we must consider how big of impact situational factors have on whether the individual will make an ethical or an ethical decision. In studies with an individual approach, the student most likely would ask themselves: “How would I like to be treated in the same situation”, “what are the consequences and effects on the society and my co-workers”? There are of course multiple questions to be asked, but the point is that the individual answer will be quite the different from another depending on culture, education and social attitude among others.
The use of individual moral imagining is effective but has a lack of diversity when used individually. Therefore, there are limitations, on how realistic the outcome of an individual decision is. Would one make the same decision in real life? Is the ethical challenge then as realistic as when you work in groups of people with different background? The alternatives of ethical solving would most likely come out as more feasible, but less likely. I believe when we are in a realistic scenario, it influences the people to make the most appropriate decisions. There are issue-related and context-related factors that have a likely influence on ethical decision-making. Designing a course focused on situational issues, should by my opinion, include the following: Work-shops where the students should set up realistic scenarios in collaboration with the professor Effective use of ethical solving models from the curriculum
Effective use of tools whilst discussing suspected behaviour in ethical issues Discussions after working in groups, assessment of approaching, use of tools. Creating a challenging environment with ethical issues as close as it could be in real life. Implement the use of solving cases
What are the main factors encouraging business ethics education, and what are the main barriers to its further development and expansion? There are multiple factors encouraging Business ethics education. Studying business ethics may help the upcoming business leaders to take adequate decision concerning their environment and society. «Business ethics has the potential to provide a major contribution to our society». Understanding the ethical decision-making process by Rest (1986), can help understanding why businesses make the decisions they take. Understanding might also prevent self-profiting and corruption by willingly seeing the consequences of their actions. Business ethics clarifies the moral responsibility that companies have economically, socially and environmentally.
Companies with diminishing values and economical focused structure could prevent scandals by including ethics in their strategies. Barriers for its further development might be the fact that the companies already have built in such a firm structure. When the frames are already set, it can be hard changing its moral. By measuring the moral intensity in the company, one can find out how strong the working culture influences an ethical decision. Many managers might be from “the old school”, meaning they are not open for new solutions. They would hardly “change a winning team” or go into a different direction. Another barrier could be that the goals for economic win are too ambitious. Making ethical decisions can sometimes give higher costs, and achieving the same economic win can take longer time then planned in the beginning.
Using ethical theories in decision-making, consequentialist theories or non-consequentialist theories, are not harmonizing with the economical lectures about economic win in the studies. The debate came up about this issue, and according to an article in the economist, “business schools stands accused of being responsible for much that is wrong with the corporate management today”. Meaning that today’s business schools teach little about ethical decision-making, with more focus on an economic win situation no matter what the consequences. In the business ethics course that I am currently studying, the aims are, that the student Shall have knowledge of the central moral challenges businesses today may face, and of the importance of dealing with these in a way that can withstand public scrutiny.
Shall have knowledge of theories and principles that may be used to analyze and handle such challenges. Shall have the ability to identify and describe characteristic moral challenges in different business contexts. Shall have the ability to analyze and handle such challenges in an independent way. Shall have the ability to apply general ethical theories and principles to concrete cases. Shall be able to relate to scientific literature in an independent and critical way. Shall be able to apply scientific literature to concrete cases in an independent and adequate way. (University of Stavanger, 2013)
The approach methods are working in groups with cases and discussing the outcome in the class afterwards. We are actively being involved in scenarios and cases, as for the teacher is asking us frequent for our knowledge. We also got two obligatory assignments to deliver in before we can take our final exam. Personally, the approach is very effective. I feel that I am very involved, carried away in the ethical issues, and am eager to learn more about the topic. The only thing is that sometimes, it feels like we have too little time for cases and discussions. It would not harm to have another session only for working with assignment or cases. Other than that it is a very educational subject. Referanser