Foster an ethical spirit in future leaders through a values-based management study program
Business comes down to the myriad of day-to-day decisions that managers have to make. These decisions influence the way organizations are run, having a myriad of long-term effects on the success and survival of the organization. The consequences of these decisions are best understood through a moral lens.
Business ethics play a decisive role for an organization in building credibility and trust with its stakeholders and in “managing organizational integrity”.
Michael Josephson was undeniably right to say: “The use of the term business ethics could imply that the ethical rules and expectations are somehow different in business than in other contexts. Business ethics don’t really exist. There is only ethics and the challenge for business people and all other areas of life to recognize and respect basic moral principles like honesty, respect, responsibility, fairness and benevolence. ”
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The corporate world has witnessed various gigantic scandals and ethical breaches, which have led to the discrediting of organizations and their leadership. Ethical misconduct on the part of companies has continued since 2001 Enron scandal for fraudulent accounting, the 2010 environmental disaster caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill the 2015 Volkswagen emissions scandal, The Fargo Well the creation of 1.5 million fake accounts in 2017 and the like clearly reflects an absolute disregard for ethical considerations in business decision-making. Companies have too often been censored for wrongdoing that clearly reveals a complete lack of moral conscience. The American physicist and entrepreneur Robert Noyce had rightly said: “If the ethics are bad at the top, this behavior is copied in the organization. If the tone at the top is corrupt, then the whole corporate culture is disparaged and generates a toxic corporate culture.
This is where management institutions need to step in to include a values-based ethics program to educate and train management students, who are future business leaders. Management education is not just limited to imparting knowledge and sharpening the intellect, but more importantly honing skills that advance the real shrewdness of management students. Business schools have a fundamental responsibility to instill strong moral and ethical values in their students and to prepare them for leadership roles. They must learn to competently manage a very socially diverse society and a rapidly changing business landscape that can pose several ethical dilemmas and conflicts.
Teaching ethics in management education
What is the responsibility of B schools in creating an ethical corporate culture? Business schools are the preliminary training platform for future managers and senior executives; therefore, the emphasis on ethics and values in the curriculum is a basic factor. However, teaching ethics does not guarantee an individual possession of a moral compass!
Management education should expose students to good and bad incidents in the corporate world. In addition, they must be made aware of the different behaviors that will prevail in the workplace and made aware of the advantages of taking an appropriate position. Another important aspect is that management education should not view ethics as a stand-alone course, but rather integrate it with other interdisciplinary courses. Students should recognize that ethics is essentially an integrated approach.
A business school is the perfect platform to define best business practices for its students. Additionally, it can shed light on how the practice of business ethics benefits the bottom line. The Business Ethics degree program should provide hands-on learning of ethics and ethical issues that will enable students to deftly manage gray areas in business.
Pedagogy to teach business ethics
Learning based on case studies is a suitable way to demonstrate real business challenges. It stimulates students’ critical thinking and ethical reasoning skills through discussions of various ethical dilemmas facing businesses; prepare students for the real business challenges they may face in the future.
Equally important is giving students the opportunity to participate in ethical case competitions and ethical debates. These allow students to deal with several conflicts and ethical dilemmas that real businesses grapple with.
Simulations are a skillful approach to ethical learning. It enables students to learn safely through the app, using technology to simulate ethical dilemmas. This allows students to assess their own ethical values and limits. More often than not, the simulations are in teams, highlighting one of the challenges of real companies facing ethical issues.
Learning through examples from industry leaders invited as speakers is another way to enrich ethics learning. Experiences with business ethics broaden students’ understanding that goes beyond their classroom learning of ethical theories and frameworks.
Teaching ethics in management education does not guarantee behavior change, but it exposes students to the challenges businesses face and gives them the tools to deal with business dilemmas through a ethical approach.
“Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela