Our focus this week is on the effectiveness of education and guidance on ethics given to business and accounting students.
An indictment of business schools? MBA CEOs engage in short-term management and performance
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, we 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 and Xiaowei Xu. 2019. MBA CEOs, Short-Term Management and Performance.
Journal of Business Ethics, 154(2), 285–300.
Learning from Greek philosophers: The foundations and structural conditions of ethical training in business schools
There is an extensive body of work that has previously examined the teaching of ethics in business schools whereby it is hoped that the values and behaviours of students might be provoked to show positive and enduring change. Rather than dealing with the content issues of particular business ethics courses per se, this article explores the philosophical foundations and the structural conditions for developing ethical training programs in business schools.
It is informed by historical analysis, specifically, an examination of Platonic and Aristotelian philosophies that inspires virtue ethics, and together provides four conditions for consideration: respect for law, dialectics, imitation and deliberation.
We outline the necessary structural conditions for implementing these requirements as well as suggesting the necessary pedagogical protocol applicable to all courses. It is argued that reference to our two ancient Greek philosophers provide many valuable and insightful lessons for the implementation of ethical training today including choice of theoretical content and the approach towards learning.
Further, the enactment of a pedagogical protocol requires a policy of recruiting and managing business school teachers-instructors that takes into account, and consciously encourages, intellectual, relational and spiritual pedagogical qualities.
Sandrine Frémeaux, Grant Michelson and Christine Noël-Lemaitre. 2018. Learning from Greek Philosophers: The Foundations and Structural Conditions of Ethical Training in Business Schools.
Journal of Business Ethics, 153(1), 231–243.
Business schools and the development of responsible leaders
We propose Edgar Morin’s notion of transdisciplinarity as a complementary educational perspective for preparing business school students in addressing the complex global socio-economic and environmental challenges that our planet has been facing for some time.
Morin’s notion of transdisciplinarity spans various disciplines, both within disciplines and beyond individual disciplines. Morin’s transdisciplinary approach is inquiry driven and presents a systemic/humanistic vision and form of awareness that challenges habitually dualistic and simplistic thinking. Morin’s transdisciplinarity is based on a dialogical and translogical principle that extends classical and rigid logic and that helps students to explore and unify concepts of a simultaneous complementary and contradictory nature.
Confronting students with different modes of thinking, imagining and feeling can help them to develop greater self-awareness, critical reflection, and creativity; with various frames of reference; and with an openness toward and confidence in engaging in changes needed to address global challenges in a sustainable and responsible way.
Stefan Gröschl and Patricia Gabaldon. 2018. Business Schools and the Development of Responsible Leaders: A Proposition of Edgar Morin’s Transdisciplinarity.
Journal of Business Ethics, 153(1), 185–195.
Ethics in UK accounting education
A growing body of literature places blame for accounting frauds on the failure of educators to implement ethics training in accounting curriculums in higher educational institutions. Although, the professional accountancy bodies in the UK espouse high ethical standards, others suggest that these bodies are failing to cover ethics in any meaningful way.
This study surveys faculty about what is being taught and how much time is dedicated to ethics training. This is the first study to examine whether content suggested by the Ethics Education Framework (EEF) has been implemented in curriculums in the UK. In addition, we look to determine if there is a notable difference between what is covered in both pre-1992 (less vocational) and post-1992 (more vocational) UK universities.
Although we find that post-1992 (more vocational) institutions have implemented the EEF suggestions more than pre-1992 (less vocational) UK universities, current ethics training is insufficient and has not changed much over the last two decades.
William F. Miller and Tara J. Shawver. 2018. An Exploration of the State of Ethics in UK Accounting Education.
Journal of Business Ethics, 153(4), 1109–1120.
Action-oriented ethics instruction in an accounting curriculum
While there is considerable support for integrating ethics education in accounting curricula, research presents conflicting evidence on how best to incorporate it. A review of accounting ethics scholarship highlights criticisms of the literature, including limited research into actual behaviour and a lack of theory.
We report the results of a study that is theory based, captures behaviours rather than attitudes, and explores the effect of repeated practice to develop voice efficacy. We examine the impact of two types of ethics instructions. Across four classes in an accounting curriculum, one student cohort participated in traditional ethics instruction, while the other cohort participated in Giving Voice To Values (GVV) instruction. We collected student responses to an ethical challenge and conduct a between-subject analysis.
The results reveal consistent unethical behaviour in the traditional cohort but not in the GVV cohort, indicating that faculty should consider the use of this pedagogy in accounting ethics education.
Anne Christensen, Jane Cote and Claire Kamm Latham. 2018. Developing Ethical Confidence: The Impact of Action-Oriented Ethics Instruction in an Accounting Curriculum.
Journal of Business Ethics, 153(4), 1157–1175.
CSR education using stories
Corporate social responsibility (CSR) pedagogies and teaching techniques have been extensively discussed in the literature. They are viewed as crucial for illustrating business–society relationships and encouraging business students to act ethically. Although the experiential learning perspective prevails in the discussions on CSR education, little attention has been paid to the discursive nature of CSR learning.
Considering this gap, the paper explores the role of discourses in CSR education by drawing upon the discursive perspective on CSR and the relational social-constructionist orientation to management learning. To that end, a story co-creation exercise implemented in a CSR course in a Nordic University is used to demonstrate how discourses enable and constrain certain CSR meanings within a business educational context.
The paper contributes to the field of CSR education and critical CSR research by suggesting how the discursive nature of CSR can be used to promote more reflexive practices among business students.
José-Carlos García-Rosell. 2019. A Discursive Perspective on Corporate Social Responsibility Education: A Story Co-creation Exercise.
Journal of Business Ethics, 154(4), 1019–1032.
Business students’ insights into ethical decision-making
Motivated by the call for more research on students’ perceptions of their ethical development in business education programs, this study examines students’ reflections on how their understanding of ethics was challenged and/or changed, and what facilitated the development of ethical decision-making approaches in a first-year accounting course.
The results indicate that students developed more sophisticated and contextualised views of ethical issues in business, government and social contexts including the need to consider their impact on various stakeholders.
Students attributed this development to the various elements in the integrated course design including the real cases sourced in current newspaper articles, an ethical decision-making framework with various ethical perspectives, the reflective journal component and the ability to work in groups.
These findings have implications for the design of effective ethics education programs in business.
Rosina Mladenovic, Nonna Martinov-Bennie and Amani Bell. 2019. Business Students’ Insights into Their Development of Ethical Decision-Making.
Journal of Business Ethics, 155(1), 275–287.