Major normative approaches to ethics—deontology, utilitarianism, virtue ethics, others.


This course provides a multidisciplinary, interactive study of business ethics and social responsibility in business organizations; raises awareness of difficult ethical conflicts and dilemmas in business; and explores the application of multiple frameworks and decision-making tools. Further, the course features an overview of foundational concepts such as virtue theory, rights, justice, utilitarianism, stakeholder management and social contract theory as well as a review of relevant psychological and sociological influences in decision-making and policy-making. These concepts will be applied to business cases that depict dilemmas faced by managers working in various business roles and industries. The core concepts are applied to the international marketplace, where issues grow more complex because of factors such as religion, culture, national sovereignty, and stages of economic development, as well as the absence of authoritative political and regulatory institutions. Disciplinary perspectives include professional and applied ethics, law, and management. At the end of the course, students should possess a richer understanding of their own position on ethical issues in business and a broader sense of the available approaches to resolving such issues.

This course will provide you with core knowledge of major topics in business ethics, and will assist you in integrating these major topics with other core areas in the curriculum, and skills in writing, presentation, analysis, and advocacy. Areas of concentration in Business Ethics will be:

• Major normative approaches to ethics—deontology, utilitarianism, virtue ethics, others
• Ethics in different cultures—relativism and other responses to differences in ethics
• The relationship between business and government
• Ethics and markets
• Moral development—Haidt
• The role of the corporation—shareholder primacy, stakeholder management
• Corporate citizenship and corporate social responsibility
• The relationship of business ethics to finance, accounting, supply chain, management, marketing, information systems, and international business (around half the course will be devoted inter-subjective material)
Management often involves making value-laden judgments under conditions of uncertainty. Business Ethics is designed to develop your skills in dealing with such managerial situations. In particular, you should gain:

• Greater ability to make clear, logically sound, and factually well-supported arguments as to what should be done to resolve business issues with an ethical dimension
• Enhanced skills in identifying, articulating, refining, and deepening their own ethical perspectives and relating them to business practice
• Better knowledge of the relevant ethical approaches for dealing with business issues
• Greater strength in being able to understand the position of “the other side,” to state that position, and to appreciate its value
• Better skills in writing and presenting on issues in business that involve value-laden judgment under conditions of uncertainty
• Enhanced ability to analyze and take reasoned positions on current business topics in the news
• A better sense of the skills involved in interdisciplinary, cross-functional, and general management
• A stronger foundation for acting ethically as a manager

Course Objectives:

1. Gain knowledge of major normative approaches to business ethics and their relationship to practice.

2. Develop skills in identifying, analyzing, and resolving ethical issues in a wide variety of business domains.

3. Clarify, refine, and deepen your perspective on ethical issues in business and increase your ability to contribute constructively to the resolution of these issues.


The Moral Life: An Introductory Reader in Ethics and Literature, Pojman (Available in bookstore)

Morality, Competition and the Firm, Heath (Available in the bookstore)

Why Some Things Should Not Be For Sale, Satz (Available in the bookstore)

Wall Street Values: Business Ethics and the Global Financial Crisis, Santoro (Available in the bookstore)

Harvard cases. Go To: [Register at the site, purchase the cases]

Articles posted on blackboard.


• Two Exams. Exams will cover all course materials. This includes material from books and cases that are presented, material that is presented that is not from the book, and material from the book that is not presented.

• Group Case Presentations. You will each be part of a case presentation group that will lead class discussion and present the analysis of a case you will be assigned. Your overheads and class handouts will be your group’s deliverable. Individual grades for the group presentation may vary if contributions vary.

• Personal Ethical Challenge. I will ask you each to describe an ethical challenge that you or someone you know faced in business (about 1,200 words). After describing the challenge in depth, you will analyze it using the concepts you learned in the class and you will have to provide an outcome to the dilemma. This is due with the final exam.

• Class Participation. Understanding ethical situations, forming ethical judgments, prioritizing ethical values, and implementing ethical judgments are not spectator sports. To grasp fully the difficult ethical situations business managers face, you must wrestle with them. Therefore, participation in classroom discussion is a crucial component of classroom success. If I know you by first name, you are certain that you will get a good class participation grade. (participation is 50% of your score)

• In addition, during each class there will be questions presented using Top Hat, and they will be tallied at the end of the semester. These questions will be graded. Your score will be based on the number of correct divided by the total number of questions asked. (daily questions is 50% of your class participation score)

Course Grading:

• Mid Term Exam 30%
• Final Exam 30%
• Group presentation/Case 5%
• Personal Ethical Challenge 15%
• Class Participation: 20%

Grading Criteria for Class Participation

(a) Class attendance is absolutely essential for this course: the daily participation grades reflect attendance. Only documented illnesses, emergencies, and religious holidays will be recognized as legitimate absences. Job interviews, job fairs and fraternity events are not legitimate absences. It is best to contact me promptly in case of a legitimate absence. 3 missed classes and it’s an automatic one grade reduction in the final grade (example: A goes to B, B goes to C, etc..). For every additional class miss you will drop ½ grade.

(b) Disrupting the class will negatively affect your participation grade. This includes arriving late to class. Please, respect your follow students and professor and do not disrupt the class in any way.

(c) Participation grades depend on the quality and quantity of participation. In particular, the case discussion classes provide important opportunities to participate and develop strategic skills and your participation in ‘case’ classes will be weighted more heavily.

In evaluating your contributions to case discussions, I use the following questions:

(1) Have you read and analyzed the case in depth?
(2) Do you use the case data constructively to analyze the issues and make recommendations?
(3) Do you use the concepts and frameworks taught in the course to usefully analyze the case?
(4) Are you a good listener? Do you listen and learn from others in class?
(5) Does your participation fit in with the flow of the class discussion and show that you have been listening and reacting to others’ points?
(6) Do you constructively debate points with other students? Do you provoke a dialogue with other students?
(7) Do you present useful recommendations justified by your analysis and/or by the class discussion?
(8) Do you help us to look creatively at strategic problems and solutions?

I place less value on participation that primarily repeats case facts without analysis or disrupts the flow of the class discussion without reason.

If you attend class but do not regularly participate in the discussion, do not expect to receive a passing grade in the class participation. Remember that effective communication is critical in the business world and that, if you have problems communicating (for example, due to shyness), this class provides you with the opportunity to tackle them. Please feel free to discuss any participation issues with me (before it’s too late and the semester is ending!) – I will do my best to assist you, as long as it’s early enough in the semester.

Group Case Presentation:

You are assigned to a group. The group presentation of the case should last no more than 60 minutes. The presentation should explain the case dilemma, the options available to address the dilemma and the action advocated by the group. Actions should be supported with logic and rigor and the case dilemma should be analyzed with care and great criticism. The group will need to address additional questions of the class, so to inspire further thought about the case and further analyze other normative considerations. Grades will be based upon: identification of the ethical dilemma, identification of possible solutions to the dilemma, the groups choice to solve the dilemma accompanied with great care and logic to support the decision, quality of presentation (both verbal and visual), and questions posed to the class. There will be six (6) groups this semester, and each group will go once.

Personal Ethical Dilemma

The ethical dilemma you choose should be a decision (i.e., a choice between two or more alternatives). Each of those alternatives should be something a reasonable person could argue for (using a principle-based argument). If one of your choices is obviously wrong or obviously right, it’s not an ethical dilemma — so do not use this as a case. Breaking the law is not considered an ethical dilemma. Do not choose cases where someone is breaking the law and your arguing for/against the action. Change as many names and places as you need to make sure this will not betray any confidences or make you uncomfortable. My goal is to see your reasoning process, not to know your private information. Remember to write in the first person when needed. Please don’t analyze a major social issue (e.g., the death penalty is only relevant if you must pull the switch). When completing this, make sure to spend time analyzing and establishing a solution based upon one of the ethical systems discussed. No more than 1,200 words.

Group Project Contribution:

If your group’s participation has been uneven, please email me an evaluation of the individual member contributions by the last day of class. To do so, evaluate each member of your team (including yourself) on a 1-100 scale in terms of their individual contribution to your team this semester with a 1 equating to “Who is this, I’ve never heard of them!” to a 100 being someone who easily met or surpassed your expectations and was a great contributor. If you give 100 to each person in your group – that would mean everyone provided a more-or-less equal and valuable contribution. If I do not receive input from you, I will assume that was the case.


The above assignments should be carefully written and edited. Sloppy writing, poor grammar and/or spelling mistakes will influence the grade. The same is not true for the exams because the testing conditions are different from the conditions in which the above assignments are completed.

Submission of Assignments

All assignments are to be handed in, in person, by you. I cannot take electronic submissions and late papers will lose five (5) points for each day a paper is handed in beyond the due date.


The exams will be a combination of multiple choice, short-answer, and essay questions. In the event of an emergency, makeup exams may be administered following (not before) the administration of the general exam. If you are unable to be at an exam, it is important to contact me immediately.

The final grade is straight forward

A greater than a 93
A- 90 to 92.9
B+ 87-89.9
B 83-86.9
B- 80-82.9
C+ 77-79.9
C 73-76.9 C- 70-72.9
D greater than a 65 and including a 69.9
F less than a 65


1. Academic and personal integrity: Violations of honor codes and other integrity problems are completely unacceptable. In doing projects/ assignments, you should cite all external sources of information (including Internet sources), fully and completely. Under no circumstances, should you “recycle” materials from another class or from students who took the class in the past. To maintain fairness to all other students, violators of academic integrity will be penalized by receiving failing grades and will be reported to the appropriate University authorities. I will use the Turn-it-in functionality in Blackboard to assure that your papers are not plagiarized.

2. You are expected to do all the assignments by their due dates, attend all classes, and be prepared for class discussion. If you expect to miss more than three class meetings (including for job interviews), consider taking the class during another semester.

3. If you miss a class, it is your responsibility to find out from classmates what materials were covered, what assignments are due, and what (if any) handouts were distributed in class. If you miss a class when a surprise quiz was given, you will not be allowed to make up the quiz (unless you had a valid and documented emergency).

4. I will attempt to do everything I can to use the class time effectively and ask that you do the same. This includes arriving, starting, and ending on time. Please respect your follow students and professor and do not disrupt the class in any way.

5. All written work should be typed and submitted by the due date. Please write your team number and name, the names of all team members, and your section number on the written work!

6. For weather-related class cancellations, please call the Rutgers main number (973-932-INFO) or 973-353-1766. If I have to cancel the class for any reason, I will send an email to the class roster.


1. I would like to know each of you personally and make the class atmosphere as informal as is feasible!

2. I will ask that each of you put up a name card, each class. Place these cards in front of you during class. This will help me to keep track of your class contributions.

3. I frequently call on students to summarize readings and participate in the discussion. Be prepared for this!

4. I will use Blackboard to post copies of the PowerPoint presentations that I use in class, readings and other files for the discussion of current topics.

5. Please feel free to contact me with any questions or concerns you have during my office hours or at any other mutually convenient time. Email is a great way to communicate, so don’t hesitate to use it. I will try to help you on any day of the week (as long as I am in town or otherwise available).


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