Are business course curricula adequately covering CSR? Read this week’s articles to find out.
Educating business students about sustainability
There has been substantial growth of interest in sustainability in business, management and organisational studies in recent years. This article applies Oswick’s (J Manag Spirit Relig 6(1):15–25, 2009) method of bibliometric research to ascertain how this growth has been reflected in scholarly publishing, particularly as it relates to business and management education over the 20 years 1994–2013.
The research has found that sustainability as a general topic in business and management studies, as evidenced by scholarly publishing, has accelerated rapidly both in terms of items published and cited. In the mid-2000s, the emphasis of books published in this area began to change from one which advocated ‘sustainable development’ to one which viewed sustainability as a management practice which could help businesses and society simultaneously.
The literature on sustainability within the field of management and business education has been smaller, but has enjoyed a similar growth rate which accelerated sharply in the most recent 5 years of the dataset. Most of the scholarly, peer-reviewed articles analysed tend to advocate the inclusion of sustainability on business school curricula, or to demonstrate the various ways in which faculty have integrated sustainability-related principles in their teaching.
A smaller amount of research has been undertaken on the learning experiences of the ‘recipients’ of these approaches. There is evidence of an extensive variety of approaches used by educators, but the most significant research need which presented is for more empirically driven studies on how and why business and management students engage with the principles of sustainability.
John G. Cullen. 2017. Educating Business Students About Sustainability: A Bibliometric Review of Current Trends and Research Needs.
Journal of Business Ethics, 145(2), 429–439.
MBA CEOs tend to act short-term compared with their non-MBA counterparts
There is ample discussion of MBA self-serving values in the corporate social responsibility literature, and yet empirical studies regarding the corporate manifestations and consequences of those values are scant.
In a comprehensive study of major US public corporations, Miller and Xu find that MBA CEOs are more apt than their non-MBA counterparts to engage in short-term strategic expedients such as positive earnings management and suppression of R&D, which in turn are followed by compromised firm market valuations.
Danny Miller & Xiaowei Xu. 2017. MBA CEOs, short-term management and performance.
Journal of Business Ethics, https://doi.org/10.1007/s10551-017-3450-5.
The role of gender and age in business students’ values, CSR attitudes, and responsible management education
As demand grows from various stakeholders for responsible management education (RME) in business schools, it is essential to understand how corporate social responsibility (CSR) and RME are perceived by various subgroups of business students.
Following the principles of theories on moral orientation and moral development, the authors examined the role of gender and age in determining four indicators of business students’ moral approach (i.e., values, CSR attitudes, corporate responsibility priorities, and suggestions toward RME) in the context of business schools committed to RME and CSR.
Based on nearly 1300 responses to a survey, conducted with the United Nations-supported principles for responsible management education, the research shows that overall, female students placed a higher value on ethical responsibilities than male students. Female students were also more welcoming than male students regarding curriculum changes that were focused on CSR-related studies (or RME). In addition, older age groups ranked transcendent values and positive CSR attitudes higher than younger age groups. The authors also found that the subgroups of the age variable could better discriminate the differences in choices made by the respondents between the four indicators of students’ moral approach. The implications of the findings to RME, business schools, and other stakeholders are discussed.
Debbie Haski-Leventhal, Mehrdokht Pournader and Andrew McKinnon. 2017. The Role of Gender and Age in Business Students’ Values, CSR Attitudes, and Responsible Management Education: Learnings from the PRME International Survey.
Journal of Business Ethics, 146(1), 219–239.
MBA curricula of the Financial Times top-ranked business schools
This paper aims to examine how the Master of Business Administration (MBA) curricula of top-ranked business schools are offering stand-alone courses on ethics and corporate social responsibility (CSR). To provide additional evidence, this study tests some hypotheses to contrast the effect of different variables on the inclusion of stand-alone courses on ethics and CSR.
Also, the paper provides a comparative analysis in two ways: one comparison aims to analyse how the presence of ethics and CSR stand-alone courses in the MBA programmes over the past 10 years has evolved, and the other comparison seeks to explore whether there are differences between different rankings with regard to the inclusion of ethics and CSR stand-alone courses in the MBA curricula.
A web content analysis was conducted on the curricula of 92 of the top 100 global MBA programmes ranked by the Financial Times in their 2013 ratings. The findings show that there is a trend towards the inclusion of stand-alone courses on CSR and ethics as electives.
Empirically, the findings suggest that the presence of ethics and CSR elective stand-alone subjects in the MBA programmes is explained by the following variables: public/private, business school’s accreditation and cultural influence. Comparatively, the findings suggest that requiring CSR and business ethics stand-alone courses in the MBA programmes ranked by the Financial Times have not increased over the past 10 years. In addition, when the researchers have compared the results of this study with other rankings, they have appreciated that there are important differences between top MBA programmes in accordance with the aims and scope of rankings.
Manuel Larrán Jorge, Francisco Javier Andrades Peña, Maria Jose Muriel de los Reyes. 2017. Analysing the inclusion of stand-alone courses on ethics and CSR: A study of the MBA curricula of the Financial Times top-ranked business schools.
Sustainability Accounting, Management and Policy Journal, 8(2), 114-137.
Canada: Ethics, social responsibility and sustainability in business school curricula
The authors examine the course offerings of undergraduate business programs in Canada to better understand the depth and breadth of this educational system’s inclusion of ethics and social responsibility courses. Methodology involved analyzing online programs, curricula, and course descriptions on university websites.
Results indicate that only a small proportion of universities are providing a substantial depth and breadth of course coverage in their course offerings. Additionally, barriers to educating ethical managers are discussed and a model of social responsibility concepts is presented.
Walter Wymer and Sharyn R. Rundle-Thiele. 2017. Inclusion of ethics, social responsibility, and sustainability in business school curricula: a benchmark study.
International Review on Public and Nonprofit Marketing, 14(1), 19–34.
Highlighting moral courage in the business ethics course
At the end of their article in the September 2014 issue of the Journal of Business Ethics, Douglas R. May, Matthew T. Luth, and Catherine E. Schwoerer state that they are “hopeful in outlook” about the “evidence that business ethics instructors are….able to encourage students…to develop the courage to come forward even when pressures in organisations dictate otherwise” (p. 78).
Authors Comer and Schwartz agree with May et al. (2014) that it is essential to augment students’ moral courage. However, it seems overly optimistic to believe that this improvement will result from any course in business ethics. Indeed, the authors question the appropriateness of their measure of moral courage and assert that business ethics educators must purposely design their courses to develop students’ moral courage.
In particular, the authors advocate introducing business ethics students to works of literature featuring protagonists who exercise moral courage in organisations. Fiction provides rich accessible narratives that show students worlds beyond their experience, awaken their imaginations, and evoke their emotions.
Further, the authors highlight morally courageous exemplars because they inspire the cultivation of character. Joining those who underscore the role of virtue in business ethics education, the authors argue that exposure to moral exemplars in fiction will help students to build the moral courage they need to carry out ethical decisions in the workplace. Results from 46 students at the end of an MBA ethics course featuring moral courage provide preliminary evidence of the effectiveness of this approach.
Debra R. Comer and Michael Schwartz. 2017. Highlighting Moral Courage in the Business Ethics Course.
Journal of Business Ethics, 146(3), 703–723.