Journal of Business Ethics

, Volume 153, Issue 1, pp 231–243 | Cite as

Learning from Greek Philosophers: The Foundations and Structural Conditions of Ethical Training in Business Schools

  • Sandrine Frémeaux
  • Grant Michelson
  • Christine Noël-Lemaitre
Original Paper


There is an extensive body of work that has previously examined the teaching of ethics in business schools whereby it is hoped that the values and behaviours of students might be provoked to show positive and enduring change. Rather than dealing with the content issues of particular business ethics courses per se, this article explores the philosophical foundations and the structural conditions for developing ethical training programs in business schools. It is informed by historical analysis, specifically, an examination of Platonic and Aristotelian philosophies that inspires virtue ethics, and together provides four conditions for consideration: respect for law, dialectics, imitation and deliberation. We outline the necessary structural conditions for implementing these requirements as well as suggesting the necessary pedagogical protocol applicable to all courses. It is argued that reference to our two ancient Greek philosophers provide many valuable and insightful lessons for the implementation of ethical training today including choice of theoretical content and the approach towards learning. Further, the enactment of a pedagogical protocol requires a policy of recruiting and managing business school teachers-instructors that takes into account, and consciously encourages, intellectual, relational and spiritual pedagogical qualities.


Plato Aristotle Virtue ethics Business ethics Business schools Pedagogy Teaching methods 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sandrine Frémeaux
    • 1
  • Grant Michelson
    • 2
  • Christine Noël-Lemaitre
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of ManagementAudencia Business SchoolNantesFrance
  2. 2.Department of Marketing & ManagementMacquarie UniversitySydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Institute of ErgologyAix-Marseille UniversityAix-en-ProvenceFrance

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