Can Business Ethics Be Taught?

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Can business ethics be taught?

Business Ethics can be defined as the study and evaluation of decision making by businesses according to moral concepts and judgments. Ethical issues range from a company’s obligation to be honest with its customers to a company’s responsibility to preserve the environment and protect employee rights. Ethics includes the need to produce a reasonable profit for the company’s shareholders with honesty in business practices, safety in the workplace, and larger environmental and social issues. Business ethics calls for an awareness of social responsibility and this includes addressing social problems such as poverty, crime, environmental protection, equal rights, public health, and improving education.

Can business ethics be taught? This is a question where there is no absolute answer yes or no. But I believe the ethics and business ethical examples should be and have to be taught in business school.

First, it is important to help graduates understand other people's value systems and expectations of them, to be able to engage and discuss this side of things in a decision making process (especially if other people's expectations have become rules or laws, as with accounting and disclosure requirements, rules against conflicts of interest, etc).

Second, it's important to help graduates realize the horrible consequences (especially for others) of some seemingly harmless selfish acts.

We certainly shouldn't delude ourselves that a required course in grad school is going to make bad people into good people, or mean people into kind people. Nor should we be sanctimonious about it and feel that offering a course on ethics somehow makes us (the instructors or administrators) "good people." But the first approach above will make it easier for the graduate to interact with others in the workplace, and to avoid oblivious violations of industry regulations. And the second approach above might actually change the way...
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