Can Ethics Be Taught to Business School Graduates?

Business schools have a responsibility to incorporate applied business ethics courses as part of their undergraduate and MBA curriculum. The purpose of this article is to take a background and historical look at the reasons for the new emphasis on ethical coursework in business schools. The report suggests a prescription for undergraduate and graduate education in applied business ethics and explores in detail the need to increase applied business ethics courses in business schools to enhance the ethical development of students.
A project on teaching business ethics at The Wharton School concluded that ethics should be directly incorporated into key MBA courses and taught by the core business faculty (Dunfee, T.W. and Robertson, D.C., 1988).
There have been enough instances in history that highlight the need for better education on Ethics.
Moral failures and illegal activities like E. F. Hutton kiting checks, the Bank of Boston laundering money, GE falsifying time sheets to overcharge the government, Jacob Butcher, former chairman of the United American Bank misusing bank funds that led to the downfall of eight Butcher banks, insider trading on Wall Street, and recent cases of bribery and collusion in Department of Defense contracting are but examples of a disturbing disregard for business ethics that is all too frequent in modern society. University of Washington Professor William G. Scott (1988) attributes some of this disregard to business schools and their failures to sufficiently incorporate moral and ethical issues into university curricula.

Values are reinforced or diminished by the persons and the organizations that touch an
Individual’s life. Philosophers believe that ethics emerges as a discipline in the context of
cultural relativity, a term that is often associated with the phenomenon of values that change over time
The main concern discussed in these papers is that Ethics should be consistently included in all modules and not just be discussed as a one-off module- as this would take away from its seriousness. Ethics is an essential aspect of business that shouldn’t just be taught as a module but, in fact, taught as a standard principle in all areas.

• Starkey, K., Hatchuel, A. and Tempest, S., 2004. Rethinking the business school. Journal of Management Studies, 41(8), pp.1521-1531.
• Dunfee, T.W. and Robertson, D.C., 1988. Integrating ethics into the business school curriculum. Journal of Business Ethics, 7(11), pp.847-859.
• Luoma, G.A., 1989. Can’Ethics’ Be Taught?. Strategic Finance, 71(5), p.14.

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