• Editorial - SOCA

4 Reasons Why Teaching Ethics is Important

Ethical scandals, such as the financial collapse of 2008, have redefined the importance of business ethics in higher education. Institutions across the globe are emphasizing ethics through the various learning goals involving ethical decision-making and social responsibility.

However, the increased emphasis on ethical education can also create uncertainty among educators who feel ethics classes fail to make students more ethical. This sentiment arises from the misconception of the true purpose of ethical education in business school settings. The role of business schools is not to make students more ethical, but rather to expose them to ethical dilemmas that will allow them to develop their own ethical decision-making process. This exposure arms students with the skills and knowledge needed for them to make ethical decisions in their own careers.

Now that we’ve defined the main role of business schools, let’s explore four specific reasons why teaching ethics is important, as discussed by Chris MacDonald of Canadian Business.

4 Reasons For Teaching Ethics

1. Introduce students to faulty rationalization

Unethical decisions often result from faulty rationalization and external pressures. For example, an order from a manager can cause individuals, who are normally ethically outstanding, to engage in unethical behaviors and characterize it as “just business.” Ethical discussions allow students to understand the dangers of faulty rationalization and better prepare them to handle external pressures in their own careers.

2. Expose students to opposing viewpoints

Ethical values are influenced by the culture and upbringing of each individual. For many students, college is the first opportunity to venture from home and experience opposing views. Ethical discussions not only expose students to contrasting ethical opinions, they also provide an opportunity to understand the reasons behind the differences. As a result, students are able to expand their understanding of ethics, sometimes even altering their own values and ethical decision-making process.

3. Allow students to develop critical thinking skills

Case studies and articles presenting ethical scenarios introduce students to both correct and incorrect ethical decisions and allow them to learn firsthand the complexity of ethics. Such instructional methods can “exemplify for students what first-rate reasoning about ethics actually looks like. In other words, good articles on ethics are effectively special-topic exemplars of advanced critical thinking skills. Students who study such first-rate reasoning in the classroom stand a better chance of being able to engage in solid ethical reasoning in the workplace.”  Chris MacDonald, Canadian Business

4. Prepare students for success post-graduation

Skills related to ethical decision-making, such as critical thinking and leadership, are regarded as top attributes in business school graduates. However, surveys of hiring organizations show these skills are also considered rare among graduates. The development of ethical decision-making skills gives students an opportunity to leverage a competitive advantage into a great job and prepares them to become future business leaders.

reposted by editorial, School of Corporate Affairs (SOCA)

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