Business Schools Teaching Ethics Again

It’s no longer enough to teach what will make a business successful. Highlighting new trends in our society, business schools are now adding a heavier dose of ethics. They study the well-known problems of Uber, Wells Fargo and the NFL, for example, and besides finance, marketing and economics, they are including behavioral psychology and discussing the responsibility of businesses. That is in part because shareholders are now expecting companies to exercise social responsibility. And in turn more and more MBA students are interested in including these concerns to their understanding of their future role. Business schools throughout the country are accordingly therefore changing their curricula and have reinstated what had been omitted in the recent past. The #MeToo movement has strengthened the trend and sexual harassment is also the topic of some courses, courses which can sound more like classes in human nature than in business practices.


Certainly the willingness of businesses and corporations to address ethical issues and social responsibility is being done to maintain the bottom line. Companies large and small see including them as being in their best interest. Nevertheless it is burrowing these inclusions deeper into the general culture and further legitimizing them.  If so, my fear that this may only be a fad may end up having no standing.


2 thoughts on “Business Schools Teaching Ethics Again”

  1. I share your fear that this concern will be fleeting, although large universities, such as UC Berkeley, are upping their requirements of all faculty (and consequently students) to be made aware of of sexual harassment. At Berkeley there is a theater class that develops a live 1 hour theater piece that faculty can choose to enroll in to fulfill their requirement (versus reading about harassment and taking a test). The drama presents a scene where there is subtle harassment and judgment about how women that dress sexily are “asking for it”…and also get promotions because they fulfill the male expectation of putting up with the crude jokes and inappropriate touching. There is a verbal discussion afterwards about what the play brings up for each person. In the two classes I took, the discussion was thoughtful and brought up a lot of other issues as well as sexual harassment.

Comments are closed.