Learning outcomes of the course unit
By the end of this course students will be expected to have developed a critical awareness of the complex range of ethical issues which can and regularly do arise in the conduct of contemporary international business. The emphasis throughout is on critical reflection rather than on the construction of formulaic answers or recipes for dealing with moral issues in business. Thus students will be expected to have developed their own ability at critical reflection on a range of social issues and ethical dilemmas affecting international business, informing this reflection through an awareness of the leading moral philosophers and manifesting an ability to see beyond merely ideological rationalisations to develop an authentic rational assessment of the issues. In particular students will be expected to have developed through discussion and reflection their own moral standpoints on such issues as the ultimate scope of company social responsibility, sustainability, ethical conduct in finance and marketing as well as ethics in government.
Course contents summary
This course offers a comprehensive overview of the many diverse ethical issues which may present themselves in the conduct of contemporary business for managers of companies or organisations, for consumers and for policy makers and politicians. The emphasis will be on encouraging students to develop their own critical moral reflections on the wide array of issues, dilemmas and cases presented. The course will provide a grounding in moral philosophy as a basic framework for ethical reflections on a variety of ethical and politico-economic dilemmas that may arise in contemporary business.
Specific themes to be covered include the following:
1. Basic concepts and logic of the subject; Business Ethics as a form of critical social theory and levels of that critique; introduction to the idea of company social responsibility, debates as to its limits corporate citizenship and creation of shared value.
2. Leading approaches to moral philosophy which are of relevance to discussions in Business Ethics; comparison of their contrasting implications in relation to selected controversial issues.
3. The 3 pillars of Sustainability and the challenges of Sustainable Development today; detailed examination of environmental sustainability and the carrying capacity of the planet.
4. Stakeholder theory; the European Social Model and a comparison of North American, European and Asian approaches to the subject.
5. Critical analysis of the moral dimensions of a selected range of micro ethical issues in the financial sector in the contemporary period such as: moral hazard, insider trading, greed, usury extortion and the morality of the charging of interest on loans.
6. Critical analysis of the moral dimensions of a selected range of micro ethical issues in Marketing. Deception and irresponsibility in marketing practices; the ethics of lobbying
7. Critical analysis of the moral dimensions of a range of other specific micro ethical issues such as bribery and corruption, whistle blowing, diversity in employment or as class discussion requires.
CRANE A and MATTEN D (2010) “Business Ethics”, 3rd edition Oxford University Press.
This is a very good introductory text on Business Ethics.
HARTMAN L (2005) 3rd international edition “Perspectives in Business Ethics” Mc Graw Hill, Maidenhead.
In particular this collection contains the article by Milton Friedman “The Social Responsibility of Business is to increase profits” and the seminal article also of Albert CARR “Is Business Bluffing ethical?”
O’SULLIVAN P, SMITH M and ESPOSITO M (2012) “Business Ethics: a critical approach integrating ethics across the business world” Routledge, London.
This text seeks to apply and show the relevance of business ethics principles across an array of different business disciplines such as Marketing, Human resource Management etc
O’SULLIVAN P, ALLINGTON N & ESPOSITO M (2015) “The Philosophy Politics and Economics of Finance in the 21st century: from Hubris to Disgrace”, Routledge London.
As the title suggests this is an in depth examination of the ethical issues that arise in contemporary banking, finance and financial markets.
The course will combine classic lectures on fundamental concepts and philosophies with wide-ranging seminar type discussions of a variety of typical dilemmas and case studies. Ethical dilemmas and shorter case studies will be presented in class on the day while for longer case studies students will be expected to have read these before coming to class. On certain days students will make their own group presentations on assigned topics. These presentations will count as part of the assessment of the course
Assessment methods and criteria
Methods of assessment
A group project on an assigned topic or case in Business Ethics to be presented in class (20%).
A final written examination consisting of an array of essay questions inviting students to present their critical reflections on topics as covered in the course (80%)