An introduction to Business Ethics and Sustainability.

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Welcome to Business Ethics

This is a 6 credit postgraduate unit available as an elective, offered by the School of Business and Law, to students undertaking postgraduate courses at CQU.

This unit is designed to introduce you to concepts related to ethics, morality, corporate accountability and sustainability.

It requires you to reflect on your own practice, believes and values and understand how they have developed, how they have informed your practice and whether they are defendable.

This unit has the following learning objectives:

This unit examines the interrelated topics of personal and business ethics and business sustainability.

It critically reviews the socio-cultural environment in which business operates and how this can change dramatically between countries and cities.

Ethical frameworks for managerial decision-making are critiqued with reference to various stakeholder groups and you will examine the debates surrounding sustainable development as they impact on organisations in their local and global contexts.

The interactions between personal ethics and how ethics is managed within an organisation are also considered.

Technological, societal and cultural sources of ethical challenges are reviewed and cases will be discussed outlining how various organisations might respond to these challenges.

Unit Learning Outcomes

On successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • investigate the interconnections between business ethics, sustainability and globalisation; and evaluate the differences between ethics, legal requirements and cultural factors in a business setting;
  • explain the various aspects of business sustainability and how these impact upon business strategy;
  • critique the major ethical theories and frameworks and be able to compare these in a contemporary business setting;
  • discuss the management of business ethics within an organisation and explore the role of tools such as Codes of Conduct, Risk Management frameworks and gift policies in assisting such management; and
  • demonstrate commonly accepted professional ethical standards in the work place and in your behaviour toward others.

Texts and Journals

Ferrell,O.C., Fraedrich, J., and Ferrell, L. (2015), Business ethics: Ethical decision making and cases, Cengage, Stamford. ( A newer edition is now available)

Other texts which can be sourced at most libraries include:

MacDonald, G. (2015). Business ethics: A contemporary approach, Cambridge University Press, Port Melbourne.

Donaldson, T., Werhane, P. and Van Zant, J.D. (2008).  Ethical issues in business: A philosophical approach, Pearson, Upper Saddle River.

De George, R.T.(2010). Business ethics, 7th edn, Prentice Hall, New York.

Trevino, L.K., and Nelson, K. (2013). Managing business ethics: Straight talk about how to do it right, 6th edn, Wiley and Sons, New York.

Velasquez, M. (2013). Business ethics: Concepts and cases,  Pearson, Upper Saddle River.

Academic Journals

The Journal of Business Ethics

The Asian Journal of Business Ethics

Business Ethics Quarterly

The Journal of CSR and Sustainability

Academic Staff

  • Course Coordinator & Facilitator Melbourne: Associate Professor Michael Segon
  • Facilitator Melbourne: Dr Adriana Koulouris
  • Course Facilitator Sydney: Dr Grace Phan-Athiroj
  • Course Facilitator Brisbane: Sandra Figueira

2018 Schedule Term 2

  • Topic 1 An Introduction to Business Ethics, Professional Duty and Key Issues in Business Ethics
  • Topic 2: Morality and Moral Reasoning
  • Topic 3 Values, Culture and Relativism
  • Topic 4 International Perspectives in Ethics
  • Topic 5 Ethical Theories and Perspectives I

Vacation week begining 13th August

  • Topic 6 Ethical Theories and Perspectives II
  • Topic 7 Ethical Leadership
  • Topic 8 The Corporation, Law and Moral Accountability
  • Topic 9 Sustainable Organisations:  Developing Ethical Cultures
  • Topic 10 Sustainable Organisations:  Corporate Social Responsibility
  • Topic 11Sustainability
  • Week 12 Presentations

Assessment Tasks

There are three (3) Assessment tasks

  • Individual Essay: 40%

Due: Week 6 Friday (24 Aug 2018) 11:59 pm AEST

  • Individual reflection: 30%

Week 12 Friday (5 Oct 2018) 11:59 pm AEST

  • Group Presentation & Executive Summary: 30%

Week 12 Friday (5 Oct 2018) 11:59 pm AEST

This assessment task is designed to assist students to examine a range of ethical issues and to apply ethical theories as means of arriving at a justifiable decision.

Students will have the opportunity to examine international business ethics issues, specifically related to corruption, bribery and practice using ethical concepts and theories.

A detailed rubric and an audio file are available on the Moodle site that provides further details regarding this assessment

  • Due Date: Week 6 Friday (Week 6 Friday (24-Aug-2018) (Submit assignments through Moodle site).
  • The assignment must also be submitted through Turnitin and must have less than a 10% similarity score
  • Late assignments are penalised at 5% per day after the cut off time
  • This Marks awarded for referencing, research and presentation standard
  • A minimum of 16 quality references is expected.

Assessment Tasks- Individual

Assessment Criteria

  • Defining key terms and concepts related to ethics, morality, personhood and moral accountability
  • Advancing a resolution to the ethical dilemmas using ethical theories and concepts with examples to illustrate
  • Demonstrating a breadth and quality of research by using a minimum of 12-16 academic sources
  • Correctly using of the APA in text referencing system to correctly citing academic sources.

These are the minimum requirements. Students should note that satisfactorily meeting the minimum requirements will typically result in the minimum pass grade being awarded.

Assessment Tasks- Individual

Assessment: Reflection and Self Analysis

The key aspect of reflection is a critical evaluation of the self.

Students will undertake a number of in-class cases during the semester and must use two (2) of the nominated cases as the basis for their self analysis, signed by the unit facilitator to verify they have been completed in class. The unit coordinator and or facilitator will then nominate which ones are to be used as part of the assessment.

  • Students will also complete at least 3 ethical diagnostic tools in class and must attach the results sheet as an appendix, signed by the unit facilitator to verify they have been completed.
  • Students are to use the findings of these tools to analyse how and why they made their decision(s) the assumptions made and approaches used, and whether their positions changed over time and why.
  • Students should also include a brief statement about how the content of the unit has given them greater insights into ethical practice as a future manager and leader.
  • A detailed rubric and audio file are available on the Moodle site that provides further details for this assessment task.
  • Refer to the unit Moodle site for further details.

Assessment: Reflection and Self Analysis

Assessment Criteria

Students are required to:

  • Two cases nominated by the unit coordinator or class facilitator,  completed in class (signed and or verified by the lecturer)
  • A minimum of 3 diagnostic tools (results page signed by facilitator attached as appendices)
  • Discuss the decisions and analyse these referring to the diagnostic results and ethical theories and concepts.
  • Utilisation key ethical, csr and sustainability concepts and terms to describe and analyse their own positions or belief
  • These are the minimum requirements. Students should note that satisfactorily meeting the minimum requirements will typically result in the minimum pass grade being awarded.

All students will be allocated to a group by the facilitator and or unit co-ordinator.

These groups will be non-negotiable.

Students will undertake analysis of an organisation examining either its internal approach to the development of ethical culture or its external engagement through corporate social responsibility or specific ethical practices of executive leadership.

The specific task will be determined by the facilitator and unit coordinator in consultation with each group.

Each group will present as a group of consultants, such as KPMG, Ernst and Young etc., and assume that they have been hired by the organisation to conduct the analysis and present to the CEO and or Board of Directors.

Each group will be afforded 15-20 minutes to present and must provide a copy of the Powerpoint slides to the facilitator PRIOR to the Presentation. Each group is also required to submit an Executive Report of approximately 1000 words with a detailed reference list.

This presentation will occur in week 12 of term during the class.

Assessment: Group Presentation & Exec Summary

Assessment Criteria

  • Students are to demonstrate knowledge of the subject matter, and effective presentation skills by:
  • Providing a concise and structured presentation with introduction, main presentation and conclusion.
  • Effectively using audio visuals and verbal communication delivered within the time allocation (15 mins per group)
  • Using of key ethical, csr and or sustainability models, concepts and theories as an analytical frame.
  • Identifying of company strengths and weaknesses against the analytical frame.
  • Providing a clear set of recommendations supported by literature (if and when appropriate)
  • Demonstrating a commitment to professional business presentation standard.
  • Ensuring all group members to make a balanced contribution in the presentation.
  • Providing copy of the presentation (powerpoints) MUST be provided to the unit facilitator prior to the presentation.

Assessment: Group Presentation and Exec Summary

Assessment Criteria:

Students are to demonstrate knowledge of the subject matter, and effective written skills by:

  • Providing a concise overview of the content of the presentation of approximately 1000 words
  • Using of key ethical, csr and or sustainability models, concepts and theories as an analytical frame
  • Identifying of company strengths and weaknesses against the analytical frame
  • Providing a clear set of recommendations supported by literature (if and when appropriate)
  • Using a minimum of 12-16 quality references made up of recommended texts and academic journal articles so as to demonstrate breadth and quality of research
  • The use of the APA in text referencing system to correctly cite academic sources
  • Ensuring a list of references used in the presentation is attached to the executive report.

Assessment: Group Presentation and Exec Summary

  • The teaching approach used for this unit will be based on adult learning techniques.
  • Some facilitator presentation of theory will occur in each session however the primary method will be the use of “Socratic dialogue”
  • Students are expected to read the unit notes and the chapter references prior to coming to class
  • Students are expected to actively engage in class discussions, case studies and presentations.
  • It is an Australian Government requirement that International students must attend a minimum of 80% of scheduled classes
  • Please not hat attendance registers will be taken and records kept
  • Anti-discrimination legislation prohibits discrimination based on race, culture etc., thus ALL students are expected to attend a minimum of 80% of classes

Teaching Method & Participation

These are the minimum requirements. Students should note that satisfactorily meeting the minimum requirements will typically result in the minimum pass grade being awarded.

As Masters students you are required to engage in research as per the Australia Quality Framework (AQF) guidelines. Two specific requirements need to be considered.

  • 1. Students need to demonstrate “a body of knowledge that includes the understanding of recent developments in a discipline and/or area of professional practice, and
  • 2. Students must demonstrate “knowledge of research principles and methods applicable to a field of work and/or learning”.

Each Masters unit has a number of required weekly readings in terms of academic texts, journals and business publications that represent the appropriate body of knowledge and recent developments referred to by the AQF. In order to demonstrate the ability to engage in appropriate research, students should read and utilise these texts and journals and publications. As Masters students you are expected to research beyond this minimum standard through additional texts, journals and studies to demonstrate an ability to engage in independent research.

Your attention is drawn to the University’s stated position on plagiarism. THE WORK OF OTHERS, WHICH IS INCLUDED IN THE ASSIGNMENT MUST BE ATTRIBUTED TO ITS SOURCE using the APA in text referencing system (a full list of references must be submitted as part of the assessment).

Research and Presentation

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