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    Business Ethics


    All tracks

    Follow-up / Interfaces:

    Principles of Leadership, Leading Self & Mindful Leadership


    Pre-reading and preparation tasks


    Lecture, case studies, individual tasks, plenum discussions



    ECTS points:



    Simone de Colle

    Aims and objectives:

    The purpose of the course is to introduce the core concepts and methodologies of the field of study of business ethics, and discuss its practical application within organizations. During the course the main ethical theories (virtue ethics, deontology, utilitarianism) will be presented and discussed with reference to real case-studies, exploring their meaning for today’s strategic management.
    Participants will examine the main concepts and practical application of stakeholder theory by discussing real cases of business decisions and analyzing their rationale and impacts. Moreover, the concepts and methodology for Corporate Codes of Ethics Design and Implementation will be presented and critically discussed.

    The following are some of the questions that will be addressed during the seminar:

    • What are the different ethical frameworks to analyze and solve dilemmas?
    • What is the purpose of the firm? Shareholder or Stakeholder value creation?
    • What does it mean “no trade-off” thinking?
    • What are ethical leadership skills?
    • How can we recognize a well-designed and applied Corporate Code of Ethics?
    • What are the limits between effective marketing and consumers’ deception
    • What are the boundaries of CSR in international business?
    • How can business ethics and CSR help your organization to achieve its purpose?

    Through active participation in class discussions, role-play and team-work, participants will improve their capacity of ethical analysis and appreciate different perspectives and points of view.

    General learning objectives:

    On successful completion of this module the learner will be able to:

    • Demonstrate a systematic understanding of relevant ethical principles and values in contemporary business.
    • Apply a range of appropriate ethical theories, value systems and principles in order to elucidate ethical issues in modern-day business.
    • Display a critical understanding of business organizations’ corporate social responsibility in general.
    • Critically analyze business organizations’ impact on and responsibility towards a variety of stakeholders in particular.
    • Apply and appraise appropriate ethical decision-making models to explore various resolutions to ethical problems in business.
    • Construct reasoned arguments for a justified course of action in ethically difficult cases.
    • Give evidence of an in-depth ethical analysis of one particular business ethics issue by completion of a paper.

    Course Textbooks: 

    T. Donaldson, P. Werhane and M. Cording (DWC), Ethical Issues in Business. A Philosophical Approach, 7th edition, 2002 Prentice Hall

    R.E. Freeman, J.S. Harrison, A.C. Wicks, B.L. Parmar and S. de Colle (2010), Stakeholder Theory: The State of the Art, Cambridge University Press (only Chapter One and Chapter 8).

    Recommended supplemental readings:

    S. de Colle (2006), CSR and Management Systems, in J. Alluche (ed.) CSR. Volume 1: Concepts, Accountability and Reporting, Palgrave MacMillan; pages 333-355.

    S. de Colle & J. York (2008), Why Wine Is Not Glue? The Unresolved Problem of Negative Screening in Socially Responsible Investing, Journal of Business Ethics, pages 83-95.

    de Colle, S., Henriques, A. and Sarasvathy, S. (2013). The Paradox of CSR Standards, Journal of Business Ethics.

    T. Donaldson & T. Dunfee “Integrative Social Contract Theory”, AMR, 1995; pages 252-271.

    M. Friedman (1970), The Social Responsibility of Business, The New York Times

    D. Hess (2007), A Business Ethics Perspective on Sarbanes-Oxley and the Organizational Sentencing Guidelines, Michigan Law Review, 105:1781-1816.

    M. Pfarrer et al., ‘After the Fall: Reintegrating the Corrupt Organization’, Academy of Management Review, 2008. Vol 33, No. 3, 730-749.

    Porter & Kramer, “The Link Between Competitive Advantage and CSR”, Harvard Business Review, December 2006

    M. Schwartz (2004) “Effective Corporate Codes of Ethics: Perceptions of Code Users,” Journal of Business Ethics, 55 (4):323–343.

    R. Solomon, “Corporate Roles, Personal Virtues: An Aristotelean Approach to Business Ethics, Business Ethics Quarterly, Vol. 2, No. 3 (Jul., 1992), pp. 317-339.
    P. Werhane (2008) Mental Models, Moral Imagination and System Thinking in the Age of Globalization, Journal of Business Ethics.