Proceedings of the International Association for Business and Society

Volume 27, 2016

Proceedings of the Twenty-Seventh Annual Meeting

Rebekah Inez Brau
Pages 1-20

A Framework for Teaching the Goal of the Firm in Introductory Business Classes
Shareholder Wealth Maximization Ethicality and Classical Philosophical Paradigms

In many business textbooks and courses, particularly in finance curricula, students continue to be taught that the single goal of the firm is shareholder wealth maximization (SWM). Although this statement presents a clear and succinct goal, which adheres well to rational expectations and financial economic models, I argue it is over simplistic and may actually be detrimental to student learning and professional conduct. A strict adherence to the SWM goal has at least anecdotal evidence of cases in which business students act unethically after graduating. In this article I propose a framework that includes a discussion of four classical ethics camps vis-à-vis SWM in foundational business classes. I assume students have not yet had a philosophical or business ethics course and begin the discussion from the ground up.