Volume 10, 2013
John Schatzel, Claus Dierksmeier
Teaching Business Ethics Through Social Audit Simulations
This paper reports on a preliminary investigation of the pedagogical uses and possibilities of interactive ethics audit simulations. We want to foster experience-based learning in business ethics and examine how simulated social audits of corporations can be useful supplements to traditional textbook-oriented pedagogy. We argue that social audit simulations may offer many benefits for business ethics instruction, especially when it comes to developing ethical literacy for institutionally complex and morally complicated multi-stakeholder scenarios. We conclude that ethics education based on broadly accepted standards of social accountability (SA8000, GRI, ISO 26000, SOX 404) should be advanced through audit-simulation technology. Thus certain decision-making problems, which students might encounter in the real world, can be studied in the classroom. Our research contributes to the field in several ways. It describes a new avenue for self-directed learning that encourages critical thinking about ethical issues and complex stakeholder scenarios in an enjoyable, interesting and safe way. Moreover, it emphasizes “soft” skill development, and empowers students to advance their skills through exploration, practice, and learning from their mistakes. By advancing the pedagogical toolkit of educators, this new interactive technology can improve awareness of how codes of business ethics should work in the real world and inspire further scholarly debate and research.