Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 118, Issue 1, pp 127-137

First online:

Service-Learning and Leadership: Evidence from Teaching Financial Literacy

  • Omid SabbaghiAffiliated withCollege of Business Administration, University of Detroit Mercy Email author 
  • , Gerald F. Cavanagh S. J.Affiliated withCollege of Business Administration, University of Detroit Mercy
  • , Tim Hipskind S. J.Affiliated withInstitute for Leadership and Service, University of Detroit Mercy

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We provide an empirical investigation of leadership characteristics and social justice issues in the context of financial literacy service-learning. Using a unique dataset of student self-ratings, we find that students experience statistically significant increases in 8 of the 10 leadership dimensions and 7 of the 7 social justice issues examined in this study. Leadership dimensions include: persuasion, building community, “commitment to the growth of people,” stewardship, empathy, awareness, foresight, and listening. Interest in social justice issues include: dignity of the human person, community and the common good, rights and responsibilities, option for the poor, dignity of work, solidarity, and care for God’s creation. The statistically significant increases in these dimensions following the completion of the service-learning suggest positive effects on students’ self-perception of leadership qualities and interests in social justice issues: business school students sense improvement in nurturing growth of employees and colleagues, commitment to serving the need of others, understanding and empathizing with others, ethics, ability to foresee the likely outcome of a situation, and listening intently to others. As a consequence of the financial literacy service-learning, we believe that business students become more prepared toward becoming ethical leaders and citizens with compassion to serve the world for the well-being of all people, rich and poor alike.


Ethics Finance Service-learning Financial literacy Leadership Social justice