A study of the business decision-making process as these decisions interact with the social, technological, political/legal and economic environments. The causes and effects of the regulation of business are developed and explored.
What is the corporation? Do corporations--and more particularly the managers who represent them--have any responsibilities beyond seeking to maximize shareholder wealth? Is the term 'business ethics' an oxymoron? What is the source of moral truth? These and other related questions provide the 'grist' for this course.
This course is designed to be a challenging and exciting course for the undergraduate business student. Two major themes will provide direction throughout the semester: business ethics and corporate social responsibility. Most of your prior business coursework has been concerned with highly structured topics closely related to a well-developed body of theory; not so with business ethics/corporate social responsibility. There is not a specific set of skills serving to lead you through the course, and no unifying meta-theory to inform your decisions. The problems and issues of business ethics/corporate social responsibility embrace the entire spectrum of business and management disciplines. Many variables and situational factors must be dealt with at once; weighing the 'pros and cons' of a particular course of action necessitates a total enterprise perspective.
This course has been included in your business school curriculum in order to stress the appropriateness of moral judgement as a central component of business decision making. The overriding pedagogical objective is to sharpen your abilities to think critically and to diagnose situations from a moral perspective. Accomplishing this objective entails introducing you to a broad range of ethical frameworks. Application of such models of moral reasoning necessarily takes account of the complexities and constraints imposed by the environment in which the firm operates, why the environment must be attended to, and how it affects the moral character of decisions. Social theory will also be explored as the role of the corporation in creating the 'good society' is examined.
In addition to this rather ambitious charter, the student will be required to articulate and defend his/her perspective on organizational reality; i.e., whose interests count, for how much, and on what basis are such interests (and only such interests) relevant to the business manager?
1. To increase your understanding of the tasks of the 'ideal' manager;
2. To develop the capacity to identify salient moral issues and to reason carefully about ethical options;
3. To build skills in conducting ethical analysis in 'messy' situations;
4. To improve your ability to manage organizational processes;
5. To integrate and extend upon the knowledge gained in earlier business courses;
6. To convince the student of the essential role of corporate social responsibility in the conduct of business enterprise;
7. To apply and/or implement the principles and concepts of moral reasoning through both case analysis and social change programs; and
8. To better equip the student to integrate his/her personal ethical ideal with a successful managerial career.
A maximum of 1000 points may be accumulated in this course. Point distribution varies as follows (see grading contract at back of syllabus for details):
Term Paper 0-250 points Midterm Exam #1 150-250 points Midterm Exam #2 150-250 points Final Exam 0-250 points Team Project 150-250 points
Grading policy anticipates that faculty members are expected to use all grades from A to F to distinguish among level of academic accomplishment, with the grade for average undergraduate achievement being a C. The following grading standards will be used to determine your final course grade. Students are responsible for monitoring their own progress throughout the semester.
|930 - 1000 points
|900 - 929 points
|865 - 899 points
|830 - 864 points
|800 - 829 points
|765 - 799 points
|730 - 764 points
|700 - 729 points
|665 - 699 points
|630 - 664 points
|600 - 629 points
"Plagiarism is formal work publicly misrepresented as original; it is any activity wherein a person knowingly, directly, and for lucre, status, recognition, or any public gain resorts to the published or unpublished work of another in order to represent it as one's own. Work shall be deemed plagiarism: (1) when prior work of another has been demonstrated as the accessible source; (2) when substantial or material parts of the source have been literally or evasively appropriated (substance denoting quantity; matter denoting qualitative format or style); and (3) when the work lacks sufficient or unequivocal citation so as to indicate or imply that the work was neither a copy nor an imitation. This definition comprises oral, written, and crafted pieces. In short, if one purports to present an original piece but copies ideas word for word or by paraphrase, those ideas should be duly noted;" (Lindey, Alexander, Plagiarism and Originality, 1952; as cited in San Diego State University 1992-93 Graduate Bulletin).
"Wittingly or willfully to ignore or to allow students' ascription of others' work to themselves is to condone dishonesty, to deny the purpose of formal education, and to fail the public trust;
Students involved in plagiarism (including `cheating') on any MGT 482 coursework will receive a failing grade for the course.
Three texts are assigned: Business Ethics: A Managerial, Stakeholder Approach (Weiss), Taking Sides (Newton & Ford), and The Principles of Scientific Management (Taylor). Students are expected to read each assigned chapter before the scheduled lecture for that chapter. Assigned case studies, supplementary reading materials, and course videos will be available from the instructor. Students will be provided social change project abstracts for end-of-term presentations by their class colleagues.
MIDTERM AND FINAL EXAMINATIONS:
Three exams will be given, covering assigned texts, assigned readings, class lectures, and/or group presentations. The exams will include short essay, multiple choice, true/false and fill-in questions. The midterm exams will cover the introductory lectures as well as Weiss's text, and are not designed to be comprehensive; the final exam will focus on concluding lectures and team project presentations, but is additionally designed to be comprehensive in nature. Consult course schedule for an outline of topics to be covered on each exam.
A term paper will be submitted by each student. Two options are available for this assignment:
Option A: Whose interests do you represent, and why?
In this position paper each student is to articulate and defend his/her perspective on the question of whose interests you represent as a manager and on what basis such interests (and only such interests) are relevant for the business manager. Reasons for the position taken should rely upon moral and social philosophy. Attention should be given to consideration of how your view can be defended, using the theories introduced in the course. Stakeholder theory will prove particularly relevant to this assignment.
Option B: How can we insure ethical behavior within organizations?
Students selecting this option shall present a management plan for ensuring ethical behavior within an organization of their choosing. Reasons for the positions taken should rely upon moral, social, legal, and management theory. Attention should be given to consideration of how the plan contributes to both the accomplishment of the organizational mission as well as supports ethical decision-making. In order to insure a thorough treatment, it is recommended consideration be given to the various dimensions of a social audit. Defense of the plan, rather than the plan itself, is of fundamental importance.
For either option, text documentation (either from assigned texts or 'outside' readings) would be appropriate. Final submissions are limited to no more than six pages (typed, double-spaced, minimum 12-point font, with one inch margins all around). Drafts of your term project may be submitted for comment any time prior to the final calendar month of the course. A self-evaluation of this project (available at wwu.mgt482.termpapereval.htm) is to be submitted along with the final paper.
If you need help with your writing, please access the following link: List of Good Sources for Improving your Writing and Presentations.
Each student shall participate in a team project, with the primary objective being to link theory and practice. Two options are available for this assignment:
Option A: Design and implement social change within an organization.
Students selecting this option shall work in four to six member teams to design and implement a social change program within an organization of their choosing. This could include a wide range of options, from instituting a recycling program at a community business to convincing local hotel management to make excess room capacity available to the homeless to workplace AIDS education program implementation (for sample descriptions from past semesters, click here). While the group is to strive for effective implementation of their plan, the grade for this assignment is not entirely dependent on the success of the change program.
The group is to give an account of their project to the class. This debriefing is to include: (1) an overview of the social change program; (2) ethical and social reasons for its importance; and (3) an assessment of both the degree of success of the intervention (to include a cost/benefit analysis--for a guide click here) as well as the reasons for the program's success or failure.
A two-page executive summary of the project in both hard copy as well as electronic format, as well as written project documentation (e.g., copies of correspondence between group members and their chosen organization, e-mail and phone logs, etc.), plus copies of all reflective journals (see below), must be provided at the time of presentation. Written monthly project 'progress reports' will be due every two weeks.
A 'Project Proposal' form is to be submitted by each group no later than the third week of the course. In addition, a 'Scope of Service' contract is to be negotiated between each MGT 482 group and donor and/or beneficiary representatives.
Option B: Analyze a contemporary business ethics case using the principles outlined in lecture and readings.
Each three to four member team selecting this option is to prepare both a written as well as an oral analysis of a business ethics case of their own choosing, to include: (1) a statement identifying the moral dilemma; (2) listing of alternatives providing resolution of this moral dilemma; (3) analysis of proposed resolutions from the perspective of legal as well as moral theory; (4) selection of optimal resolution (with supporting defense from both the managerial and ethical perspectives); (5) consideration of how this solution contributes to the 'good society', as well as (6) suggestions for implementation. Any assumptions made must be clearly identified as such, but do not 'assume away' the dilemma-resolve it!
Copies of the case under consideration are to be provided to the instructor in electronic form no later than the third week of the course. These cases can come from any appropriate current source; the Wall Street Journal and the 'Social Issues' column of Business Week are among the more popular periodicals for sourcing business ethics cases.
For either option, reporting will take the form of a 30 minute oral presentation followed by a 10 minute question and answer session. Be creative. Prepare the analysis as if you were presenting the information to any fitting audience you explicitly identify, to be role-played by those students not in your group (who will be accountable for posing relevant questions to the presenting group).Areas considered (in addition to those previously or subsequently mentioned) in grading the team project are listed in the table below.
|appropriateness of intervention/choice of case|
|comprehensiveness of intervention/recommendations|
|adequacy of analysis|
|clarity and conciseness of arguments|
|use of ethical and social theory to support arguments|
|success of intervention/feasibilty of case resolution|
|professionalism of presentation|
|creativity of presentation|
Outlined above are the course activities available to students. Ranges of possible points have been listed above. Each student is to fill out and return to the instructor a binding contract for work to be completed this session (see below). You are to fill out the number of points desired for each activity. The total number of points must total 1000. Points for each activity will range from 15-25% of the course grade, depending upon the individual assignment and weightings. Points must be selected in increments of 50. Note that you are given the option of opting out of either the term paper or the final examination.
For example, a student may choose to minimize the points on the exams by completing all other coursework at the maximum points possible:
|Term Paper||250 points|
|Midterm Exam #1||150 points|
|Midterm Exam #2||150 points|
|Final Examination||200 points|
|Team Project||250 points|
In all cases, class participation is mandatory. Failure to attend scheduled class sessions may be reflected in final course grading.
To send your MGT 482 contract, fill out the following form thoroughly and completely. This form must be submitted electronically. A copy of each contract will be posted to the course Blackboard site by the end of the fourth week of class.
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