RRR13 Business ethics, social responsibility, and sustainability
In all companies, managers continuously have to make choices that have ethical implications. They are faced by the challenge of making strategic and operational choices that are justifiable from an ethical point of view, and that live up the expectations of stakeholders inside and outside the company. Furthermore, managers need to build organizations that facilitate ethical behavior on the part of employees. That is, they need to lead, organize and manage their employees in ways that promote ethically justifiable rather than ethically questionable behavior. These are key issues that will shape the future of business at a time when corporate conduct is subjected to increasing scrutiny and new business models developed to address questions of legitimacy and sustainability.
Business ethics relates to the ethical challenges that arise in business practice, and to the individual, social and organizational factors that determine the ethicality of behavior in business environments. The purpose of this course is twofold. First, it sheds light on the nature of business ethical questions in general and aims to develop students' ability to identify and make informed decisions related to ethical problems in business. Second, it explores the individual, social and organizational factors that determine the ethicality of behavior and thus aims to develop students' ability to understand the psychological, social and organizational mechanisms that produce desirable behaviors, so that they can build organizations in which ethical behavior is facilitated.
The course has three main parts. The first part of the course outlines the nature of business ethical challenges, and introduces basic frameworks that can inform ethical evaluation of choices, decisions and behavior. The second part of the course addresses ethical issues that arise in corporate governance and in relations to key stakeholder groups, including employees, consumers, suppliers, NGOs, communities and governments. The third part of the course analyzes central business ethical challenges and dilemmas in key business areas, and in the context of an increasingly globalized economy.
Upon completion of the course, the students shall:
· Have knowledge about key concepts and perspectives on business ethics and how they relate to each other.
· Have a realistic view of the expectations companies face from society, and how these are reflected in relevant policies, conventions and standards.
· Have an understanding of individual, social and organizational factors that determine the ethicality of behavior in organizations.
· Be familiar with research-based insights that can inform business-ethical assessments and decisions from various literature streams, including normative theory, moral psychology, behavioral economics and other social sciences.
· Have an understanding of the ethical challenges that arise in relations to key stakeholder groups, and in central business professions.
· Be able to identify, reflect on and judge business-ethical problems informed by relevant perspectives.
· Be able to communicate,justify and challenge ethical judgments.
· Be able to analyze which individual, social and organizational factors determine the ethicality of behavior in organizations and thereby make informed assessments of how to build more ethical organizations and societies.
· Have acquired a knowledge of and the ability to reflect upon and take into consideration issues relating to the ethics of decisions, choices and behavior in business settings.
· Be familiar with the basic concepts and perspectives needed to take more advanced courses in ethics at the master's level.
The course comprises of regular lectures and guest lectures, and one group-based assignment to be presented in interactive sessions in the classroom.
The course is based on basic knowledge of business and economics, and is hence not open to first year bachelor students.
Requirements for course approval
One group-based assignment (approved/not approved).
Submission of two questions to the course readings in advance of lectures, for at least half of the scheduled lectures.
Three-day individual home exam, from 9:00 a.m. on the first exam day, until 2:00 pm on the third exam day.
A-F for home exam
- ECTS Credits
- Teaching language
Autumn. Offered autumn 2020.
Please note: Due to the present corona situation, please expect parts of this course description to be changed before the autumn semester starts. Particularly, but not exclusively, this relates to teaching methods, mandatory requirements and assessment.
Ivar Kolstad, Department of Accounting, Auditing and Law