Volume 9, 2012
Edward R. Balotsky
Just How Much Does Business Ethics Education Influence Practitioner Attitudes? An Empirical Investigation of a Multi-Level Ethical Learning Model
The impact of business ethics education on socially responsible practitioner behavior is not a new concern. A sizable extant literature base questions pedagogies used and outcomes achieved by the few early studies done in this area. Ensuing research has not produced definitive answers; measurement, methodological, and generalizability issues are prevalent due to the fragmented nature of most work. Given little pre-existing structure, an empirically-based model is needed which both sheds more awareness on the ethics education-business conduct relationship and quantifies the degree of change that the education caused. This study operationalizes a multi-level ethical learning model. Using a survey administered at the start and end of an MBA ethics course,
subsequent exploratory factor analysis, a matched t-test of pre and post-course mean scores, and an effect size calculation utilizing the Cohen’s d statistic, the existence of varying degrees of change in ethical outlook after formal ethics education is supported. Model enhancements and the potential for longitudinally following ethical learning from the classroom to the workplace are discussed.