HOW EFFECTIVE IS BUSINESS ETHICS EDUCATION IN BUSINESS SCHOOLS?

S. El-Kafafi1, O. Guler2

1Manukau Institute of Technology (NEW ZEALAND)
2Whitireia (NEW ZEALAND)
Due to the increase of worldwide ethical scandals of multi-national organizations, the general public started losing trust in businesses, their leadership and governance. In order for business to regain such trust, they need to make sure their business people are practicing higher ethical standards in their dealings. The authors believe that the best start would be at the grassroots i.e. the young generation and their educational system that could be utilized as a good tool for providing the adequate training for undergraduates before they are launched in the real business world. Moreover, research shows that ineffective decision making in ethical situations occurs because of misperceptions regarding others’ ethical standards. Jennings (2004) and Rossouw (2002) recommend ethical training and education to address specific ethical behavior in businesses. On the other hand, Bennis and O’Toole (2006) call for an integrative curriculum approach where the entire curriculum is infused with multidisciplinary, practical and ethical questions and analyses reflecting the complex challenges business leaders face. It has been suggested by Wynd and Mager (1989) that the goal of ethical education is to make students aware of the ethical and social dimensions of business decision.

This research paper examines the general guidelines for teaching ethics within the contemporary ethical problems confronting businesses that may impact on their performance and competitive advantage in this globalised environment. Those guidelines are related to the role of business schools in teaching ethics. A discussion of the goals of teaching business ethics, approaches to teaching business ethics (i.e. the two level framework approach and the team teaching approach) and the existing teaching strategies (e.g. collaborative learning groups, case study method, outsourcing external guest lecturers, role playing, debate strategy, survey strategy and group projects) of business ethics within business schools and their benefits is provided. This is further complemented with the authors’ reflections from their practical classroom teaching experiences utilizing various teaching strategies and their effectiveness. Finally the research provides recommendations to assist in increasing the value, effectiveness and significance of teaching business ethics courses.