How Teaching Business Ethics Makes a Difference

Journal of Business Ethics Education 3:5-34 (2006)
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Abstract

This paper introduces a four-stage ethical learning model that we posit will augment the evaluation of the effectiveness of business ethics education. Using the Ignatian (Jesuit, Catholic) methodologies of self-reflection and discernment, comments by 195 undergraduate and graduate students enrolled in an American university regarding the relationship between ethical attitudes and business conduct are examined before and after completing a business ethics course. Results suggest that ethics education can 1) raise students’ ethical awareness, and 2) shift ethical attitudes in either positive or negative directions, thus supporting the existence of levels of ethical understanding that our learning model proposes. Methodological challenges for current and future evaluation of the effectiveness of ethics education, including enhancement of the generalizability of findings across international borders, are considered. Several implications for linking business ethics education with the conduct and climate of business practice are also discussed.

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