Ethics: Theory vs Practice

Some interesting articles on Ethics (per my recent interest) were sent my way. Here are a few tidbits to share about ethics in general.

In 1984 the Journal of Business Ethics published a paper “Concerns of College Students Regarding Business Ethics” the authors found that in what was then considered “an increasingly complex and competitive business environment, with new pressures being brought to bear on…traditional values and ethics of decision makers and managers”, the issue of business ethics was gaining significant attention, particularly among college students. They found that traditionally, the developing of ethical decision makers and managers had been the task of educators.

In the same journal, 23 years later, in 2007, in the article “Ethics, CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) and Sustainability Education…” researchers found that one-third of all business schools were requiring course work in Ethics, CSR, and Sustainability in their MBA programs at that time. This seems to indicate that ethical standards do remain largely  a job for educators, as the previous study suggested. They discovered, in fact, a five-fold increase in such course offerings since 1988. “Further, the students themselves demonstrate an increase in interest and even are demanding more training in ethical decision-making.”They go on to say that female students are more likely than their male colleagues to indicate these topics being very important to them.

I found it very encouraging, that students are demanding these courses, and that the top schools are indeed offering them. But what is happening in practice, in organizations that continue to face challenges? Certainly the level of cut-throat competition and complexity has increased since 1984, so

  • how do organizations address decision-making and management from the ethical standpoints,
  • how are whistle-blower events handled,
  • how has social media influenced attitudes and trends, and
  • what about the nonprofit sector—are the issues given the same weight of import? These are just a few of my questions…..

I start with :Whistle Blowers, and the will to speak, here:


Works Cited
L Christenson, E. P. (2007). Ethics, CSR and Sustainability Education in the Top 50 Global Business Schools. Journal of Business Ethics, , 73, 347-368.
R F Beltraminim, R. P. (1984). Concerns of College Students regarding business ehtics. Journal of Busines Ethics .



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