Using Stakeholder Empathy to Promote Corporate Social Responsibility

Journal of Business Ethics Education 18:103-118 (2021)
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Abstract

The requirement of the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business to include business ethics in the curriculum has prompted business programs to teach ethics either integrated across the curriculum or in standalone classes. The question addressed here is how to engage students in thinking deeply and empathetically about ethical issues impacting corporate social responsibility. This research focused on using a thought experiment developed by John Rawls in which students examined CSR issues from the perspective of six stakeholder groups. A pre-test/post-test design measured the effectiveness of an instruction module on CSR coupled with an active exercise using Rawls’ veil of ignorance and original position. Results indicate that students placed greater responsibility on the stockholders and board of directors after taking this module. The implication of the Rawlsian technique to use stakeholder empathy is discussed as a tool for engaging business ethics students.

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