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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


    Term Paper

    ECTS points:



    Dr. Mark A. Baker

    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.  In a volatile global market economy defined by the exponential growth of Information Technology, traditional decision making methodologies and a singular shareholder focus are proving to be increasingly inadequate in providing the leader with the inclusive engagement necessary to guide teams, align organizations and generate sustainable profits.  More than just a traditional prescription for being “good”, the course will demonstrate how a personal understanding of ethics provides the leader with a way of engaging all the stakeholders in an inclusive vision of a profitable and sustainable future.

    The course will begin at the beginning, with a personal reflection on each individual’s ethics and the implicit bias that helps us recognize why ethics while making sense as a way of living, is often not a common sense of how to deal with situations.  In recognizing the personal reflection required to be authentically ethical, the main ethical reasoning styles will be examined and practiced through examples, exercises and cases.

    In gaining a descriptive understanding of what “morally right” means for people and the implied difficulty in being just or fair in decisions and actions, the course will contrast the two main “prescriptive ethical” theories in business: the Shareholder Theory and the Stakeholder Theory.  The moral and financial consequences of both Theories with be examined through real world examples of companies.

    For the business leader, the modern challenge is not just developing an ethical reasoning competency, it is taking the moral decision and putting it in practice, to walk the talk.  Here the course will look at how to develop engaged relationships through ethical communication and behavior.  These skills will be developed through examples, exercises and cases.

    The course will conclude with a focus on designing and implementing a Code of Ethics to provide a guiding vision for “how we work together”.

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

    Intended Learning Outcomes:

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

    • demonstrate a systematic understanding of business ethics principles and compliance requirements that are relevant in contemporary business.
    • implement appropriate business ethics theories and management tools in modern-day business decision-making.
    • display a critical understanding of business organizations’ corporate social responsibility in general.
    • analyze critically business organizations impact on and responsibility towards a variety of stakeholders in particular.
    • 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 textbook: 

    Donaldson, T., Werhane, P., Cording, M. (DMW, 2007). Ethical Issues in Business. A Philosophical Approach. 8th edition. Prentice Hall.

    Recommended supplemental readings:

    Banaji, Bazerman and Chugh (2003). How (Un)ethical Are You? Harvard Business Review.

    Bowie (1998). A Kantian Theory of Capitalism. In: Business Ethics Quarterly.
    Crisp (1998). Utilitarianism. (Introduction).

    de Colle, S. & York, J. (2009). 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.

    Donaldson, T. & Werhane, P. (2002). Introduction to ethical reasoning. In: Donaldson, T., Werhane, P., Cording, M. (eds). Ethical Issues in Business. 7th edition, pages 1-11.

    Donaldson (1989). Fundamental Rights and Multinational Duties. In: The Ethics of International Business. Pp. 81-92.

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

    Freeman et al. (2010). Stakeholder Theory. The State of The Art. Chapter 1: “The problems that stakeholder theory tries to solve. Pages 1-12 only.

    Freeman, E. (2002). Stakeholder theory of the modern corporation. In: Donaldson, T., Werhane, P. and Cording, M. (eds.). Ethical Issues in Business. 7th edition, pp. 39-48.

    Freeman (2010). Strategic Management: A Stakeholder Approach. Cambridge University Press (first edition: 1984).          

    Freeman and Velamuri (2006). A new approach to CSR: Company stakeholder responsibility. In: Kakabadse, A. and Morsing, M. (eds.) Corporate social responsibility: Reconciling aspiration with application (pp. 40-54). New York: Palgrave Macmillan.

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

    Kidder (2001). Dilemma Paradigms. In: How Good People Make Tough Choices. Chapter 1, pages 13-23 only.

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

    Pfarrer (2010). What is the Purpose of the Firm? Shareholder and stakeholder theories. In: O’Toole, J. and Mayer, D. (eds.). Good Business: Exercising Effective and Ethical Leadership. Chapter 7. New York, NY: Routledge, pp. 86-93.

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

    Q-RES Guidelines for Management (2002). (free download at www.qres.it)

    Rachels (2008). The Challenge of Cultural Relativism. In: Donaldson, Werhane and Cording, pp. 410-416.

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

    Sen (1987). On ethics and economics. Oxford: Blackwell.

    Smith, Van Wassenhove (2010). How business schools lost their way. In: Business Week, January 2011.

    Solomon, R. (Jul. 1992). “Corporate Roles, Personal Virtues: An Aristotelean Approach to Business Ethics”. Business Ethics Quarterly, Vol. 2, No. 3, pp. 317-339. Solomon (1992). An Aristotelean Approach to Business Ethics. BEQ. Business Ethics

    Stout (2012). The shareholder value myth. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler. Introduction, Chapter 1 and 3.

    Stout, L. (2013). The shareholder value myth. Cornell Law Faculty Publications. Paper 771 (7 pages).

    Werhane (1999). Moral Imagination and Management Decision-Making. Oxford University Press