Business Ethics

RRR13 Business Ethics

Spring 2019

  • Topics

    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 frameworks that can inform ethical evaluation of choices, decisions and behavior. The second part of the course addresses various ethical issues, as they relate to business and accounting. The third part of the course introduces central business-ethical challenges and dilemmas and challenges students to works hands-on with practical cases, in which problems need to be identified, alternative courses of action developed, and decisions made and justified. This part of the course will be highly interactive and students will work in groups and present each other's solutions in the classroom in order to stimulate collective reflection and discussion of business-ethical problems.  

  • Learning outcome

    Upon completion of the course, the students shall:



    • Have knowledge about 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 moral psychology, behavioral economics and law and economics.
    • Have basic understanding of the risk of individual liability for corporate misconduct, especially for people in key positions (such as auditors, chief compliance officers, top management)



    • Be able to identify, reflect on and judge business-ethical problems informed by relevant perspectives.
    • Be able to communicate and justify one's ethical judgments to others.
    • 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.


    General competence

    • 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.

  • Teaching

    The course comprises of regular lectures and guest lectures, a short term paper based on casework in the classroom and a regular school exam.

  • Requirements for course approval

    Two group-based assignments (approved/not approved)

  • Assessment

    4-hour written school exam

    Written school exam is offered both semesters (according to Regulations for Full-time Study Programmes at the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH), section 3-1).

  • Grading Scale

    A-F for school exam

  • Literature

    - Managing Corporate Citizenship and Sustainability in the Age of Globalization, 4th Edition, by Andrew Crane & Dirk Matten, Oxford University Press.

    -Additional readings will be made available on Canvas.


ECTS Credits
Teaching language

The course will be given in the spring semester in 2019. Thereafter each autumn. Offered autumn 2019.

The course description for the autumn semester of 2019 is under revision and will be published as soon as it has been approved.

Course responsible

Tina Søreide and Lars Jacob Tynes Pedersen, Department of Accounting, Auditing and Law