A selection of interesting research and articles we found recently on education and sustainability.

Does business ethics education work differently for men and women?
Yes, according to Liz Wang and Lisa Calvano, who note that some scholars have questioned the effectiveness of business ethics education and that research results have been mixed. However, studies yield interesting results regarding certain factors that influence the ethicality of business students and may impact the effectiveness of business ethics instruction. One of these factors is gender. Using personal and business ethics scenarios, the authors examined the main and interactive effects of gender and business ethics education on moral judgment. They then analyzed the relationships between gender and business ethics education on personal ethical perspectives.

Results indicate that women are generally more inclined to act ethically than men, but paradoxically women who have had business ethics instruction are less likely to respond ethically to business situations. In addition, men may be more responsive to business ethics education than women. Finally, women’s personal ethical orientations may become more relativistic after taking a business ethics class.

For more details, see: Liz C. Wang and Lisa Calvano. 2015. Is Business Ethics Education Effective? An Analysis of Gender, Personal Ethical Perspectives, and Moral Judgment.
Journal of Business Ethics, 126(4), 591-602


DIAL: An integrative framework for analysing agency in sustainability leadership
Rachel Wolfgramm, Sian Flynn-Coleman and Denise Conroy investigated agency as a way of being and acting in sustainability leadership. The authors’ primary aim was to enhance understanding of agentic strategies that facilitate transcending systemic complexities in sustainability leadership. They make a distinction in their analytical approach by drawing from Emirbayer and Mische’s conceptualisation of agency as ‘an interactive process of reflexive transformation and relational pragmatics, a temporally embedded process of social engagement, informed by the past, oriented towards the future and enacted in the present’ (p. 963). Wolfgramm et al. add ontological sources of agency to these dynamics which interact with habit, imagination, judgement and learning in the transformation of social systems.

This approach underpins the authors’ model, which they call ‘Dynamic Interactions of Agency in Leadership’ (DIAL). DIAL is an integrative framework for analysing agency in sustainability leadership. They authors examine the efficacy of this framework in higher education initiatives in which sustainability aspirations, aims and actions are envisioned, articulated and mobilised. They conclude by offering further avenues of research in sustainability leadership designed to advance this burgeoning field and contribute to bridging the gap between sustainability challenges and our abilities to solve them.

The full paper is available at: Rachel Wolfgramm, Sian Flynn-Coleman and Denise Conroy. 2015. Dynamic Interactions of Agency in Leadership (DIAL): An Integrative Framework for Analysing Agency in Sustainability Leadership.
Journal of Business Ethics, 126(4), 649-662.


Responsible management via moral reflexive practice
Paul Hibbert and Ann Cunliffe argue that, to date, principles of responsible management have not impacted practice as anticipated because of a disconnect between knowledge and practice. This disconnect means that an awareness of ethical concerns, by itself, does not help students take personal responsibility for their actions.

The authors suggest that an abstract knowledge of principles has to be supplemented by an engaged understanding of the responsibility of managers and leaders to actively challenge irresponsible practices. They argue that a form of moral reflexive practice drawing on an understanding of threshold concepts is central to responsible management, and provides a gateway to transformative learning. The paper contains implications for management and professional education.

More information is available at: Paul Hibbert and Ann Cunliffe. 2015. Responsible Management: Engaging Moral Reflexive Practice Through Threshold Concepts.
Journal of Business Ethics, 127(1), 177-188.


Respect and responsibility in academe in the IT age
This study examines business students’ ethical awareness for two virtues needed to maintain academic integrity, respect, and responsibility. Using the multidimensional ethics survey, five dimensions (i.e., ethical philosophies) were measured for six scenarios representing student behaviors using Information Technology (IT).

The results indicate that students are ethically aware in respect situations, but are more neutral in responsibility situations. Of the five ethical dimensions, moral equity and relativism appear to be the strongest influences in academic integrity scenarios utilizing IT. This study provides guidance for business professors in their pursuit of ethical excellence in the classroom and for researchers in search of greater understanding of ethical judgments of students.

Read further in Tracy S. Manly, Lori N. K. Leonard and Cynthia K. Riemenschneider. 2015. Academic Integrity in the Information Age: Virtues of Respect and Responsibility.
Journal of Business Ethics, 127(3), 579-590.


What do we know about sustainability education in Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs)?
Zehui Zhan and his colleagues undertook a content analysis of MOOCs from seven popular platforms and three search engines. After screening, 51 courses were identified as the final sample. Course description, content outlines, reading materials, recommended textbooks and discussion threads were coded to obtain insights into sustainability education learning contents, pedagogical methods, and interaction situations. Results indicated that: (1) Edx and Coursera are platforms that incorporated the most sustainability-related courses, and most instructors were senior academics with the title of professor. American and European countries outperformed other English speaking countries as early birds in sustainability education using MOOCs. The average course length of our MOOC samples is 7.6 weeks, which is much shorter than a typical face-to-face college course; (2) Current MOOCs provided mainly introductory-level courses without prerequisites.

Fourteen sustainability-related hot topics and five most popular textbooks were identified; (3) The pedagogical means used most frequently were discussion forums and lecture videos, while pedagogies such as team-based learning were not used to a large extent; (4) Learner interaction flourished in MOOCs, and sub-forums regarding Lecture Reflection, Welcome and Introduction were posted with most threads, replies, and votes. The findings suggest that the MOOC is an innovative method in sustainability education and research. A variety of information and strategies could be used when preparing sustainability-related MOOCs.

This article is published as Open Access and so you can read the full article for free online. See: Zehui Zhan, Patrick S.W. Fong, Hu Mei, Xuhua Chang, Ting Liang and Zicheng Ma. 2015. Sustainability Education in Massive Open Online Courses: A Content Analysis Approach.
Sustainability, 7(3), 2274-2300; doi: 10.3390/su7032274.


Does service bridge ethical principles and business practice? A Catholic social teaching perspective
Gregorio Guitián presents the ethical concept of service as a way of specifying higher ethical principles in business practice. He sets out from the work of a number of scholars who have found some shared ethical principles for doing business in a context of cultural diversity. Love, benevolence, consideration, and other related concepts are considered to be important guiding concepts for business but it is not clear how they are to be operationalized. He argues that the ethical concept of service can act as a bridge for bringing those higher principles into business practice.

The article explains and refines the ethical concept of service, which has received little attention. In particular, it addresses the ethical ambiguity implicit in the common meaning of service, explains how service shows love in business, and offers an account of how service provides ethical growth through virtue. Finally, this work presents a variety of examples from business, which illustrate how the ethical concept of service can be put into practice. To achieve the aim of this study the author draws inspiration from Catholic social teaching. This source provides useful insights into service and can be understood and accepted without requiring that particular faith.

For more see, Gregorio Guitián. 2015. Service as a Bridge between Ethical Principles and Business Practice: A Catholic Social Teaching Perspective.
Journal of Business Ethics, 2015, 128(1), 59-72.