This week’s articles investigate what is being taught to future managers.
What are universities doing to pave the way to ethical decision making?
In the midst of recent ethical decision-making failures in business in the past ten or more years, businesses are beginning to prioritise the moral fibre of their new-hire business graduates. In addition to academic performance, intellectual drive, and personality match, perhaps there are other key characteristics that employers seek which speak to the importance of ethical decision makers in practice.
The question remains, how can academic institutions help instil such values into their students so that ethical decision making transcends their lives? This article suggests that experiential learning through an institutional-sponsored business forum can help enhance an individual’s self-efficacy and awareness of the school’s value-based education, which ultimately will lead students towards ethical decision making in practice.
Five years of survey data collected at business forum events suggests that business forums are making a difference in the students’ self-assessed abilities to show greater self-efficacy, better ethical decision making, and an increased awareness of their institution’s value-based education. Specifically, data collected illustrate a mediating effect of self-efficacy and awareness of a value-based education en route to ethical decision making.
Further, support is found for the primary hypothesis that attendance at business forums does result in a higher propensity to make ethical decisions. Because of these positive findings, higher education institutions looking to place a greater emphasis on the ethical leadership of their business students may want to explore adding such experiential learning programs.
J. C. Blewitt, Joan M. Blewitt and Jack Ryan. 2018. Business Forums Pave the Way to Ethical Decision Making: The Mediating Role of Self-Efficacy and Awareness of a Value-Based Educational Institution.
Journal of Business Ethics, 149(1), 235–244.
Can future managers and business executives be influenced to behave more ethically in the workplace?
This study considers the potential for influencing business students to become ethical managers by directing their undergraduate learning environment. In particular, the relationship between business students’ academic cheating, as a predictor of workplace ethical behaviour, and their approaches to learning is explored.
The three approaches to learning identified from the students’ approaches to learning literature are deep approach, represented by an intrinsic interest in and a desire to understand the subject, surface approach, characterised by rote learning and memorisation without understanding, and strategic approach, associated with competitive students whose motivation is the achievement of good grades by adopting either a surface or deep approach.
Consistent with the hypothesised theoretical model, structural equation modelling revealed that the surface approach is associated with higher levels of cheating, while the deep approach is related to lower levels. The strategic approach was also associated with less cheating and had a statistically stronger influence than the deep approach. Further, a significantly positive relationship reported between deep and strategic approaches suggests that cheating is reduced when deep and strategic approaches are paired.
These findings suggest that future managers and business executives can be influenced to behave more ethically in the workplace by directing their learning approaches. It is hoped that the evidence presented may encourage those involved in the design of business programs to implement educational strategies which optimise students’ approaches to learning towards deep and strategic characteristics, thereby equipping tomorrow’s managers and business executives with skills to recognise and respond appropriately to workplace ethical dilemmas.
Joan A. Ballantine, Xin Guo and Patricia Larres. 2018. Can Future Managers and Business Executives be Influenced to Behave more Ethically in the Workplace? The Impact of Approaches to Learning on Business Students’ Cheating Behavior.
Journal of Business Ethics, 149(1), 245–258.
Exploring the potential contributions of mindfulness and compassion-based practices for enhancing the teaching of undergraduate ethics courses in philosophy
There are numerous ethical theories from which faculty may choose to teach in undergraduate philosophical ethics courses. Whether learning such theories results in ethical behaviour change remains an open question. If one of the goals of teaching ethics is to support ethical behaviour, then alternative approaches are merited.
Within the past decades, there has been a growing emphasis on mindfulness and compassion-based practices in particular, as applied to psychotherapy in the field of psychology. Such findings have bearing on ways in which compassion-based practices might be fruitful in the philosophical ethics classroom.
This article will identify issues with the dominant approach to teaching philosophical ethics, focusing on the need for a bridge between theory and action. It will also explore the potential benefits of utilizing mindfulness in the classroom, with a focus on compassion-based practices such as loving-kindness, to contribute to meeting this need to enhance the teaching of undergraduate philosophical ethics.
John Paulson and Lisa Kretz. 2018. Exploring the potential contributions of mindfulness and compassion-based practices for enhancing the teaching of undergraduate ethics courses in philosophy.
The Social Science Journal, 55(3), 323-331.
Does college teach critical thinking? A meta-analysis
Educators view critical thinking as an essential skill, yet it remains unclear how effectively it is being taught in college. This meta-analysis synthesises research on gains in critical thinking skills and attitudinal dispositions over various time frames in college.
The results suggest that both critical thinking skills and dispositions improve substantially over a normal college experience. Furthermore, analysis of curriculum-wide efforts to improve critical thinking indicates that they do not necessarily produce incremental long-term gains. The authors discuss implications for the future of critical thinking in education.
Christopher R. Huber, Nathan R. Kuncel. 2016. Does College Teach Critical Thinking? A Meta-Analysis.
Review of Educational Research, 86(2), 431-468.
International students’ critical thinking–related problem areas: UK university teachers’ perspectives
This qualitative study aims to understand the areas of international students’ critical thinking–related initial difficulties, in order to facilitate their academic experiences in UK universities.
Using a sample of 14 British teachers, the findings reveal that students from culturally and linguistically diverse traditions are very different in approaching critical thinking tasks, which seems to affect their academic performance adversely. It is recommended that explicit efforts should be made to raise awareness of the need to enable overseas students to acclimatise to the new academic environment.
Nisbah Shaheen. 2016. International students’ critical thinking–related problem areas: UK university teachers’ perspectives.
Journal of Research in International Education, 15(1), 18-31.
Balancing profit and people in undergraduate business education
This qualitative study’s purpose was to evaluate how undergraduate business students’ perspectives, skills, and behaviours evolved through corporate social responsibility (CSR) education taught with a focus on critical thinking and sustainable problem solving. Business schools are struggling to incorporate CSR into their curriculum despite interest from students and pressure from accreditation agencies.
This article primarily contributes practical tools for business schools teaching students to apply critical thinking skills and concepts gained through their business education to develop solutions to economic, social, and environmental problems. Instructors taught the following topics: definitions of CSR, the triple bottom line, stakeholder theory, exposure to social problems, businesses’ roles in exacerbating or mitigating social problems, specific sustainable solutions companies and nonprofit organisations have implemented, and analysis of public companies’ sustainability reports.
Topics were taught using critical thinking tools, such as a decision-making model, a funnelling exercise, a root problems activity, and reflection and meta-reflection. The instruction followed a specific teaching model to promote critical thinking skills development, which can be implemented by other faculty.
The authors found CSR concepts motivated students by giving them the tools and confidence in their abilities to solve meaningful problems and learning outcomes for both CSR and critical thinking were achieved.
Shannon Deer and Jill Zarestky. 2017. Balancing Profit and People: Corporate Social Responsibility in Business Education.
Journal of Management Education, 41(5), 727-749.
Business-not-as-usual in shaping mindsets
Our objective was to design an introductory business course to shape the mind-sets and skill sets of the next generation of socially conscious practitioners—to help students develop a sense of self-efficacy built on the confidence that they can make a positive impact on the world using entrepreneurial thinking and action.
Essentially, the focus was to develop an introductory business course that would encourage and enable students to understand that business can be a force for good (sustainability and social impact) and to practice collaborative innovation (human-centred design thinking). The overarching design principle was business not as usual, which embraced four themes:
(a) sustainability and social entrepreneurship,
(b) collaborative innovation,
(c) entrepreneurial thinking and action, and
The authors provide an overview of the course modules and their respective learning outcomes along with details of course content and activities to ensure transferability. A concluding discussion shares the impact on students and the challenges of success. The authors highlight how course design can be a catalyst to enable students to be the change they want to see in the world.
Denise Linda Parris and Cecilia McInnis-Bowers. 2017. Business Not as Usual: Developing Socially Conscious Entrepreneurs and Intrapreneurs.
Journal of Management Education, 41(5), 687-726.