Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 14, Issue 1, pp 71–81 | Cite as

Living (not learning) ethics

  • Joseph Solberg
  • Kelly C. Strong
  • Charles McGuireJr.


Much has been written recently about both the urgency and efficacy of teaching business ethics. The results of our survey of AACSB member schools confirm prior reports of similar surveys: The teaching of business ethics is indiscriminate, unorganized, and undisciplined in most North American schools of business. If universities are to be taken seriously in their efforts to create more ethical awareness and better moral decision-making skills among their graduates, they must provide a rigorous and well-developed system in which students can “live ethics” instead of merely learn ethics. A system must be devised to allow students to discover and refine their own values rather than simply learning ethical theories from an intellectual point of view.

After reviewing the literature on business ethics in undergraduate curricula, we make a series of recommendations to deliver experiential ethical education for business students. The recommendations include student and faculty written codes of ethics, emphasis on ethical theory within the existing required legal environment course, applied ethics in the functional area capstones using alternative learning, a discussion of employee (and employer) rights and responsibilities during the curriculum capstone course, and a public service requirement for graduation. These recommendations may be implemented without substantive additional cost or programming requirements.


Business Ethic Ethical Theory Ethical Education Business Student Legal Environment 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Arlow, P.: 1991, ‘Personal Characteristics in College Students' Evaluations of Business Ethics and Corporate Social Responsibility’,Journal of Business Ethics 10, 63–69.Google Scholar
  2. Baron, J.: 1988,Thinking and Deciding (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK), p. 397.Google Scholar
  3. Bassiry, G. R.: 1990, ‘Ethics Education, and Corporate Leadership’,Journal of Business Ethics 9, 799–805.Google Scholar
  4. Bishop, T. R.: 1992, ‘Integrating Business Ethics Into An Undergraduate Curriculum’,Journal of Business Ethics 11, 291–299.Google Scholar
  5. Bok, D.: 1988, ‘Can Higher Education Foster Higher Morals?’,Business and Society Review 66, 4–12.Google Scholar
  6. Brackner, J. W.: 1992a, ‘History of Moral and Ethical Education’,Management Accounting 74, 19.Google Scholar
  7. Brackner, J. W.: 1992b, ‘Consensus Values Should Be Taught’,Management Accounting 74, 22.Google Scholar
  8. Brooks, B. D. and P. J. McCarthy: 1989, ‘Teaching the Two R's: Right and ‘Rong’,Business and Society Review 68, 52–55.Google Scholar
  9. Bunke, H. C.: 1988, ‘Should We Teach Business Ethics?’,Business Horizons 31, 2–8.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Burton, S., M. W. Johnston and E. J. Wilson: 1991, ‘An Experimental Assessment of Alternative Teaching Approaches for Introducing Business Ethics to Undergraduate Business Students’,Journal of Business Ethics 10, 507–517.Google Scholar
  11. Davis, J. R. and R. E. Welton: 1991, ‘Professional Ethics: Business Students' Perceptions’,Journal of Business Ethics 10, 451–463.Google Scholar
  12. Delaney, J. T. and D. Sockwell: 1992, ‘Do Company Ethics Training Programs Make a Difference? An Empirical Analysis’,Journal of Business Ethics 11, 719–727.Google Scholar
  13. Etzioni, A.: 1989, ‘Are Business Schools Brainwashing Their MBAs?’,Business and Society Review 70, 18–19.Google Scholar
  14. Ferris, W. P.: 1992, ‘Business Ethics and the Use of Personal Ethics Codes’, Paper presented at the national Academy of Management Meetings, Las Vegas, Nevada.Google Scholar
  15. Furman, F. K.: 1990, ‘Teaching Business Ethics: Questioning the Assumptions, Seeking New Directions’,Journal of Business Ethics 9, 31–38.Google Scholar
  16. Ghorpade, J.: 1991, ‘Ethics in MBA Programs: The Rhetoric, The Reality, and a Plan of Action’,Journal of Business Ethics 10, 891–905.Google Scholar
  17. Glenn, J. R.: 1992, ‘Can a Business and Society Course Affect the Ethical Judgement of Future Managers?’,Journal of Business Ethics 11, 217–223.Google Scholar
  18. Halfond, J.: 1990, ‘Should Business Schools Be Sunday Schools?’,Business and Society Review 72, 54–55.Google Scholar
  19. Hathaway, J. W.: 1990, ‘Students Teach Business a Lesson’,Business and Society Review 72, 58–61.Google Scholar
  20. Hosmer, L. T.: 1988, ‘Adding Ethics to the Business Curriculum’,Business Horizons 31, 9–15.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Hunt, E. H. and R. K. Bullis: 1991, ‘Applying the Principles of Gestalt Theory to Teaching Ethics’,Journal of Business Ethics 10, 341–237.Google Scholar
  22. Jones, T. M.: 1989, ‘Can Business Ethics Be Taught? Empirical Evidence’,Business & Professional Ethics Journal 8, 73–88.Google Scholar
  23. Kennedy, E. J. and L. Lawton: 1992, ‘Business Ethics in Fiction’,Journal of Business Ethics 11, 187–195.Google Scholar
  24. Kohlberg, L. and R. Kramer: 1969, ‘Continuities and Discontinuities in Children and Adult Moral Development’,Human Development 12, 93–120.Google Scholar
  25. Nelson, D. R. and T. E. Obremski: 1990, ‘Promoting Moral Growth Through Intra-group Participation’,Journal of Business Ethics 9, 731–739.Google Scholar
  26. Pamental, G. L.: 1989, ‘The Course in Business Ethics: Can It Work?’,Journal of Business Ethics 8, 47–51.Google Scholar
  27. Peirce, E. R. and B. S. Roberts: 1987, ‘Recommendations For the Teaching of Business Ethics in the Undergraduate Business Curriculum’,Journal of Legal Studies 5, 64–81.Google Scholar
  28. Rest, J.: 1988, Manual for the Defining Issues Test (Center for the Study of Ethical Development, University of Minneapolis, Minneapolis, MN), 3rd Ed., p. 2.Google Scholar
  29. Schaupp, D. L. and M. S. Lane: 1992, ‘Teaching Business Ethics: Bringing Reality to the Classroom’,Journal of Business Ethics 11, 225–229.Google Scholar
  30. Schoenfeldt, L. F., D. M. McDonald and S. A. Youngblood: 1991, ‘The Teaching of Business Ethics: A Survey of AACSB Member Schools’,Journal of Business Ethics 10, 237–241.Google Scholar
  31. Sims, R. R. and S. J. Sims: 1991, ‘Increasing Applied Business Ethics Courses in Business School Curricula’,Journal of Business Ethics 10, 211–219.Google Scholar
  32. Strong, V. K. and A. N. Hoffman: 1990, ‘There is Relevance in the Classroom: Analysis of Present Methods of Teaching Business Ethics’,Journal of Business Ethics 9, 603–607.Google Scholar
  33. Weber, J.: 1990, ‘Measuring the Impact of Teaching Ethics to Future Managers: A Review, Assessment, and Recommendations’,Journal of Business Ethics 9, 183–190.Google Scholar
  34. Weber, J. and S. Green: 1991, ‘Principled Moral Reasoning: Is It a Viable Approach to Promote Ethical Integrity?’,Journal of Business Ethics 10, 325–333.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joseph Solberg
    • 1
  • Kelly C. Strong
    • 1
  • Charles McGuireJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.Illinois State UniversityNormalU.S.A.

Personalised recommendations