Journal of Academic Ethics

, Volume 7, Issue 4, pp 231–254 | Cite as

More than Lip Service: The Development and Implementation Plan of an Ethics Decision-Making Framework for an Integrated Undergraduate Business Curriculum

  • Greg Cant
  • Brian W. Kulik


In the face of the business community’s widening concern about corporate ethical behavior, business schools are reexamining how they ensure that students appreciate the ethical implications of managerial decision making and have the analytical tools necessary to confront ethical dilemmas. The current approaches adopted by colleges vary from mere ‘lip service’ to embedding ethics at the core of the curriculum. This paper examines the experience of several US universities that have incorporated business ethics into their curricula. In particular, the paper describes the issues facing Central Washington University as it seeks to integrate ethical decision making into its core undergraduate business curriculum. Issues addressed include the technical challenges of establishing a common element of curriculum across the various business disciplines, determining the major conceptual foundations of ‘ethical thinking’ while recognizing students’ existing value systems, and how to obtain ‘buy in’ by faculty to the initiative.


Integrated ethics curriculum Ethical decision making process Business school ethics 


  1. AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International). (2004). Ethics education in business schools: Report of the ethics education task force to AACSB international’s board of directors. St. Louis: AACSB.Google Scholar
  2. Ajzen, I. (1985). From intentions to action: a theory of planned behavior. In J. Kuhl & J. Beckmenn (Eds.), Action control: From cognition to behavior (pp. 11–39). New York: Springer Verlag.Google Scholar
  3. Ajzen, I. (1989). Attitude structure and behavior. In S. J. Breckler & A. G. Greenwald (Eds.), Attitude structure and function (pp. 241–274). Hillsdale: Springer Verlag.Google Scholar
  4. Ajzen, I. (1991). The theory of planned behavior. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 50, 179–211.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Alsop, R. (2006). Business ethics education in business schools: a commentary. Journal of Management Education, 30(1), 11–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Anonymous. (2006). 5Ps: A framework for ethical decision-making. Ithaca: SC Johnson Graduate School of Management, Cornell University.Google Scholar
  7. Atkinson, T. N. (2008). Using creative writing techniques to enhance the case study method in research integrity and ethics courses. Journal of Academic Ethics, 6(1), 33–50.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Baetz, M. C., & Sharp, D. (2004). Integrating ethics content into the core business curriculum: do core teaching materials do the job? Journal of Business Ethics, 51(1), 53–62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bean, D. F., & Bernardi, R. A. (2007). Ethics education in our colleges and universities: a positive role for accounting practitioners. Journal of Academic Ethics, 5(1), 59–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Beauvais, L. B., Desplaces, E. D., Melchar, E. M., & Bosco, M. B. (2007). Business faculty perceptions and actions regarding ethics education. Journal of Academic Ethics, 5(1), 121–136.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Bishop, T. R. (1992). Integrating business ethics into an undergraduate curriculum. Journal of Business Ethics, 11(4), 291–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Brass, D. J., Butterfield, K. D., & Skaggs, B. C. (1998). Relationships and unethical behavior: a social network perspective. Academy of Management Review, 23(1), 1–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Brown, P. E., & Mausehund, J. (1997). Integrating managerial ethics into the business communication curriculum. Business Communication Quarterly, 60(1), 77–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Building Ethical Leaders using an Integrated Ethics Framework (BELIEF) Initiative (2006). Ethics handbook: Building ethical leaders. College of Business, Northern Illinois University).Google Scholar
  15. Caldwell, C., Karri, R., & Matula, T. (2005). Practicing what we teach—ethical considerations for business schools. Journal of Academic Ethics, 3(1), 1–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Callahan, D. (1980). Goals in teaching of ethics. In D. Callahan & S. Bok (Eds.), Ethics in higher education. New York: Plenum Press, cited in Pamental, G. L.: 1989. The course in business ethics: can it work? Journal of Business Ethics, 8, 547–551.Google Scholar
  17. Canary, H. E., & Jennings, M. M. (2008). Principles and influence in codes of ethics: a centering resonance analysis comparing pre- and post-Sarbanes-Oxley codes of ethics. Journal of Business Ethics, 80(2), 263–278.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Carroll, A. B. (1979). A three-dimensional conceptual model of corporate performance. Academy of Management Review, 4(4), 497–505.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Carroll, A. B. (1991). The pyramid of corporate social responsibility: toward the moral management of corporate shareholders. Business Horizons, 34(4), 39–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Daft, R. L., & Marcic, D. (2006). Understanding management (5th ed.). Mason: Thompson South-Western.Google Scholar
  21. Davis, J. L., Payne, T. G., & McMahan, G. C. (2007). A few bad apples? Scandalous behavior of mutual fund managers. Journal of Business Ethics, 76(3), 319–334.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Dean, K. L., & Beggs, J. M. (2006). University professors and teaching ethics: conceptualization and expectations. Journal of Management Education, 30(1), 15–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Ethics across the Curricula Committee (Chair: P. Werhane). (2007). A common ethics language for dialogue. Chicago: DePaul University.Google Scholar
  24. Etzioni, A. (2004). The common good. Malden: Polity.Google Scholar
  25. Evans, J. M., Treviño, L. K., & Weaver, G. R. (2006). Who’s in the ethics driver’s seat? Factors influencing ethics in the MBA curriculum. Academy of Management Learning and Education, 5(3), 278–293.Google Scholar
  26. Frank, T. (2010). The gulf spill and the revolving door. Wall Street Journal—Eastern Edition, 255(110), A17.Google Scholar
  27. Ghoshal, S. (2003). Business schools share the blame for Enron, Financial Times, July 17, p. 21.Google Scholar
  28. Gioia, D. A. (2002). Business education’s role in the crisis of corporate confidence. Academy of Management Executive, 16(3), 142–144.Google Scholar
  29. Hartman, E. M. (2000). Socratic ethics and the challenge of globalization. Business Ethics Quarterly, 10(1), 211–220.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Hill, A. (2008). Don’t pass the buck, Financial Times, Jun 12, p. 18.Google Scholar
  31. Hite, B. (2008). Employers rethink how they give feedback. Wall Street Journal, Oct 13, p. B5.Google Scholar
  32. Horn, L., & Kennedy, M. (2008). Collaboration in business schools: a foundation for community success. Journal of Academic Ethics, 6(1), 7–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Hrebiniak, L. G. (2005). Making strategy work: Leading effective execution and change. Upper Saddle River: Pearson Education.Google Scholar
  34. Jackson, K. T. (2006). Breaking down the barriers: bringing initiatives and reality into business ethics education. Journal of Management Education, 30(1), 65–90.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kennedy, M. J., & Horn, L. C. (2007). Thoughts on ethics education in the business school environment: an interview with Dr. Jerry Trapnell, AACSB. Journal of Academic Ethics, 5(1), 77–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Kulik, B. W. (2005). Agency theory, reasoning and culture at Enron: in search of a solution. Journal of Business Ethics, 59(4), 347–360.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Kulik, B. W., Salimath, M. S., & O’Fallon, M. J. (2009). Do competitive environments lead to the rise and spread of unethical behavior? Parallels from enron. Journal of Business Ethics, 82(4), 703–723.Google Scholar
  38. Lichtblau, E., & Vlasic, B. (2010). As Toyota’s recall expands, safety agency is in cross hairs, New York Times, February 10, p. 1.Google Scholar
  39. Livingston, J. L., Bliss, R., Fleischmann, F., Greenberg, D., Hoopes, J., Mandel, R., et al. (2007). The Babson framework for ethical decision making. Babson Park: Babson College.Google Scholar
  40. Markkula Center for Applied Ethics (2007). A framework for thinking ethically, available at:
  41. McDonald, G. (2004). A case example: integrating ethics into academic business curriculum. Journal of Business Ethics, 54(4), 371–384.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Mill, J. S., & Warnock, M. (2003). Utilitarianism and on liberty: Including ‘Essay on Bentham’ and selections from the writings of Jeremy Bentham and John Austin. Malden: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  43. Mills, D. Q. (2003). Wheel, deal, and steal: Deceptive accounting, deceitful CEOs, and ineffective reforms. Upper Saddle River: Financial Times Prentice Hall.Google Scholar
  44. Mintz, S. (1990). Ethics in the management accounting curriculum, Management Accounting, 51–54, June.Google Scholar
  45. Moberg, D. J. (2006). Best intentions, worst results: grounding ethics students in the realities of organizational context. Academy of Management Executive, 5(3), 307–316.Google Scholar
  46. Nash, L. L. (1981). Ethics without the Sermon. Harvard Business Review, 59(6), 79–90.Google Scholar
  47. Nutt, P. C. (2002). Why decisions fail: Avoiding the blunders and traps that lead to debacles. San Francisco: Berrett-Koehler.Google Scholar
  48. Paine, L. S. (1994). Managing for organizational integrity. Harvard Business Review, 72(2), 106–117.Google Scholar
  49. Piper, T., Gentile, M. C., & Parks, S. D. (1993). Can ethics be taught? Boston: Harvard Business School.Google Scholar
  50. Poff, D. C. (2007). Duties owed in serving students: the importance of teaching moral reasoning and theories of ethical leadership in educating business students. Journal of Academic Ethics, 5(1), 25–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Rosenzweig, P. (2007). The halo effect...and the eight other business delusions that deceive managers. New York: Free.Google Scholar
  52. Sissell, K. (2008). Retailers respond to push for safer toys. Chemical Week, 170(6), 32.Google Scholar
  53. Swanson, D. L., & Frederick, W. C. (2005). Denial and leadership in business ethics education. In R. A. Peterson & O. C. Ferrell (Eds.), Business ethics: the new challenge for business schools and corporate leaders (pp. 222–240). Armonk: M. E. Sharpe, Inc.Google Scholar
  54. Taft, S. H., & White, J. (2007). Ethics education: using inductive reasoning to develop individual, group, organizational, and global perspectives. Journal of Management Education, 31(5), 614–646.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Talley, I. (2008). Bill takes aim at energy speculators, Wall Street Journal (Eastern edition), May 3, p. A.2.Google Scholar
  56. Treviño, L. K. (1986). Ethical decision-making in organizations: a person-situation interactionist model. Academy of Management Review, 11(3), 601–617.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  57. Treviño, L. K., & Youngblood, S. A. (1990). Bad apples in bad barrels: a causal analysis of ethical decision-making behavior. The Journal of Applied Psychology, 75(4), 378–385.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  58. Victor, B., & Cullen, J. (1988). The organizational bases of ethical work climates. Administrative Science Quarterly, 33, 101–125.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. Wawrytko, S. A. (1982). Confucius and Kant: the ethics of respect. Philosophy East and West, 32(3), 237–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  60. Weber, J., & Gillespie, J. (1998). Differences in ethical beliefs, intentions, and behaviors: the role of beliefs and intentions in ethics research revisited. Business and Society, 37(4), 447–467.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  61. Zucchero, R. A. (2008). Can psychology ethics effectively be integrated into introductory psychology? Journal of Academic Ethics, 6(3), 245–257.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Concordia College School of BusinessMoorheadUSA
  2. 2.Department of Management and MarketingHawaii Pacific UniversityHonoluluUSA

Personalised recommendations