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Ethics, CSR, and Sustainability Education in the Financial Times Top 50 Global Business Schools: Baseline Data and Future Research Directions


This paper investigates how deans and directors at the top 50 global MBA programs (as rated by the Financial Times in their 2006 Global MBA rankings) respond to questions about the inclusion and coverage of the topics of ethics, corporate social responsibility, and sustainability at their respective institutions. This work purposely investigates each of the three topics separately. Our findings reveal that: (1) a majority of the schools require that one or more of these topics be covered in their MBA curriculum and one-third of the schools require coverage of all three topics as part of the MBA curriculum, (2) there is a trend toward the inclusion of sustainability-related courses, (3) there is a higher percentage of student interest in these topics (as measured by the presence of a Net Impact club) in the top 10 schools, and (4) several schools are teaching these topics using experiential learning and immersion techniques. We note a fivefold increase in the number of stand-alone ethics courses since a 1988 investigation on ethics, and we include other findings about institutional support of centers or special programs; as well as a discussion of integration, teaching techniques, and notable practices in relation to all three topics.

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It is important for us to acknowledge the support of the Ethics Resource Center in Washington, DC, and the Center for Business Ethics at Bentley College. In addition, we acknowledge Research Assistant (MBA Candidate) Jamie Carrier at the Center for Business Ethics at Bentley College for her extensive work in conducting interviews. Also, we are grateful to the deans, administrators, and faculty who responded to the survey.

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Correspondence to Lisa Jones Christensen.

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Sponsors: Center for Business Ethics, Bentley College; Ethics Resource Center, Washington, DC.

Lisa Jones Christensen is an Assistant Professor of Sustainable Enterprise and Enterpreneurship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Dr. Jones Christensen researches and teaches about sustainable enterprise in the United States and in developing economies, as well as about corporate social responsibility, leadership, and change management. Dr. Jones Christensen’s research has been published in edited books and journals, including the Journal of Applied Psychology, Journal of Business Ethics and Academy of Management. Dr. Jones Christensen also co-founded H.E.L.P. Honduras (nowHELP- International), a non-profit organization focused on post-disaster relief and microfinance work in Honduras, Which has expanded to emphasize economic self-reliance and microfinance principles in developing economics such as Peru, El Salvador, Venezuela and Thailand. She now sits on its board. Dr. Jones Christensen has consulted with various public and private sector firms, including Johnson & Johnson, Earthbound Farms. Sustainable Harvest, Pioneer Hi-Bred (DuPont), Procter & Gamble, and UNC Hospitals. She received her PhD in organization behavior from UNC Kenan-Flagler, her MBA from the Marriott School and an MA in international development from the David Kennedy School, both at Brigham Young University. Dr. Jones Christensen received her BA from the University of California at Berkeley.

Ellen Peirce is a professor of legal studies and ethics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her field of research is in the employment and discrimination area, and she has published many articles on gender and religious discrimination in employment. Her work includes pure legal analysis of employment issues as well as analysis of related organizational behavior issues, including an article on stemming the exodus of women workers. She also has written on ethical analysis of gender discrimination and on global ethical issues affecting corporate governance and managers in the workplace. She teaches ethics and managerial law issues. Professor Peirce is a consultant and policy adviser for corporations, including IBM, AFSA and InPhyNet, on employment law issues. She addresses issues of employee rights in the workplace, including sexual harassment, defamation in the workplace, wrongful discharge and negligent hiring. Professor Peirce joined the faculty at UNC after practicing law for several years on Wall Street for Mudge Rose, Guthrie and Alexander, and in Durham, N.C., for Powe, Porter, Alphin & Witchard. She received her JD from Duke University and her BA from Bryn Mawr College.

Laura Hartman is a Professor of Business Ethics and Legal Studies in the Management Department in the College of Commerce at DePaul University and also serves as Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs and as Research Director of DePaul’s Institute for Business and Professional Ethics. She is an invited Professor at INSEAD (France), HEC (France), the Université Paul Cezanne Aix Marseille ? and the Grenoble Graduate School of Business, among the European universities. Hartman’s academic scholarship focuses on the ethics of the employment relationship with a primary emphasis in the areas of global labor conditions and standards, corporate governance and corporate culture, and the impact of technology on the employment relationship. She has been published in, among other journals, Business Ethics Quarterly, Business & Society Review, Business Ethics: A European Review, and the Journal of Business Ethics. Hartman graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University and received her law degree from the University of Chicago Law School.

W. Micheal Hodffman is the founding Executive Director of the Center for Business Ethics and the Hieken Professor of Business and Professional Ethics at Bently College in Waltham, Massachusetts. He received his Ph.D. in philosophy at the University of Massachusetts/Amherst and has been a professor for 36 years in higher education. He has authored or edited 16 books, including Business Ethics: Readings and Cases in Corporate Morality (4th edition), The Ethical Edge, and Ethics Matters, and has published over 70 articles. He consults on business ethics for corporations and other organizations, and serves as an expert witness in litigation. Dr. Hodffman is the managing principal of the Ethics Trust (, a strategic alliance of leading business ethics consultant. He was the first Executive Director of the Ethics Officer Association and served for over 10 years as the advisor to its board of directors. He is the Senior Ethics Consultant to LRN, The Legal Knowledge Company, headquartered in Los Angeles. He was a founder and President of the Society for Business Ethics, served on the advisory board of the U.S. Sentencing Commission, and is frequently sought out globally for professional lectures and media interviews.

Jamie Carrier was a Graduate Assitant for the Center of Business Ethics at Bentley College while she completed her MBA with a concentration in Business Ethics. She is now an Ethics Officer at Verizon Business and a member of the Ethics & Compliance Officer Association.

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Christensen, L.J., Peirce, E., Hartman, L.P. et al. Ethics, CSR, and Sustainability Education in the Financial Times Top 50 Global Business Schools: Baseline Data and Future Research Directions. J Bus Ethics 73, 347–368 (2007).

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  • ethics education
  • CSR
  • sustainability