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Journal of Business Ethics Education

Volume 1, Issue 2, 2004

The Stand Alone Course in Business Ethics

Laura P. Hartman, Edwin M. Hartman
Pages 165-212
DOI: 10.5840/jbee20041212

How to Teach Ethics
Assumptions and Arguments

The American Assembly of Collegiate Schools of Business has called for stronger ethics programs. There are two problems with this battle cry. First, the AACSB rejects, with weak arguments, the single best way to get ethics into the curriculum. Second, the AACSB can only vaguely describe some unpromising alternatives to that strategy. A number of leading business ethicists have challenged the AACSB to defend and clarify its views, to little avail. The proposed Procedures and Standards cannot by themselves bring about any significant change in the teaching of business ethics. There is a gap between the AACSB’s professed objectives and the means for achieving the objectives and determining whether they are being achieved. The Statement about Curriculum Content gives great prominence to the teaching of business ethics, but the interpretation of the statement, especially in the standards for measuring achievement, shows how improbable it is that the proposed Procedures and Standards will have the desired impact. We must recognize the constraints on the AACSB as we consider current standards and the controversy over a free-standing course versus an integrated curricular approach. The evident conclusion is a call, not only to the AACSB but to all business school educators, to set the stage for strengthened ethics education rather than to have standards imposed on us from outside.

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