20 slides/business ethics/12 hours


Final Project Outline

Course: Business Ethics Program: Bachelor of International Management: Core Course


Project Title: The Mastery of the Ethical, Legal and Financial Dimensions.

Project Aim and Purpose: The aim of this project is to illuminate the financial, legal and ethical dimensions of the problem, and to recommend a solution (or analyze how a corporation handled a situation) that makes sense financially, legally and ethically.

Project Learning Outcomes:

1. Examine the current factors which are driving increased awareness of business ethics in today's business environment.

2. Provide some clarity to the lexicon of business ethics and related terminology.

3. Engage with current issues in the business environment and society at large, as presented in the media.

4. Investigate ethics in a variety of functional areas of business including information technology, human resource management, marketing, accounting, entrepreneurship and international business.

5. Present ethical principles, which are of relevance in these key functional areas.

6. Review the theoretical foundations of ethics.

7. Provide guidelines to assist with ethical decision-making and discuss the strategies that can be used to strengthen the ethical climates of organizations. The students in groups will research and present a case in class as well as a written report.

Project Structure: Full Presentation

Students select an appropriate case. Each student prepares a presentation in which students explain the legal, financial and ethical dimensions of the problem. You then recommend a solution that must pass the master on all three counts. Presentations should be around 20 slides.

The idea of the exercise is to help students see that it is possible to do business profitably while at the same time acting ethically. The format that works best is for a team to think of itself as either an internal or outside consulting group that has been asked by senior management or the Board to analyze the problem and propose a solution.

I recommend that you think about your presentation in either of the following two ways:

A) You describe a problem that some business is facing, and you then propose a solution. Your description of the problem should include its business, legal and ethical dimensions. BE SURE TO EXPLAIN HOW THIS PROBLEM HAS AN ETHICAL DIMENSION. (See the section on “handling the ethical issues” below.) Explain how your solution: is legal, makes sense financially, and is ethically defensible. BE SURE TO EXPLAIN WHY YOUR SOLUTION IS ETHICALLY ACCEPTABLE.

B) You describe a problem that some business has faced and the solution that it chose. Your description should include its legal, business and ethical dimensions. BE SURE TO EXPLAIN HOW THIS PROBLEM HAS AN ETHICAL DIMENSION. You will then evaluate the company’s solution from business and ethical perspectives. BE SURE TO EXPLAIN WHY THE COMPANY’S SOLUTION IS ETHICALLY ACCEPTABLE OR UNACCEPTABLE. If you think it is unacceptable, propose an alternative solution and explain why yours is better.

Be certain that you are ultimately taking a position. That is, do not simply report on different ways that the issue can be regarded. If your team cannot agree about what position it should take, explain the majority and minority positions and set out the areas of differences.

Your overall goals are: to illuminate the financial, legal and ethical dimensions of the problem, and to recommend a solution (or analyze how a corporation handled a situation) that makes sense financially, legally and ethically. Here are some suggestions for covering these three areas.

HANDLING THE FINANCIAL ISSUES. Identify the financial impact of the problem and the financial implications of the solution. This isn’t so much an exercise in detailed financial

analysis (although feel free to do so, if you like that sort of thing) as much as an explanation of: how (and to what extent) the problem raises or lowers the company’s costs or profits; how expensive your solution is; whether the company is in a position to afford your solution; and the like.

HANDLING THE LEGAL ISSUES. Identify laws, regulations or court cases that effectively restrict what the company may do. Obviously, significant fines or settlements are important financial issues.

HANDLING THE ETHICAL ISSUES. One-third of your score will depend on how well you handle the ethical dimensions of your case. You will be expected to operate within a framework that discusses ethics in terms of a) the tangible good and/or harm experienced by those affected (humans and, if appropriate, nonhumans) and b) the “rights” or fundamental moral principles involved. (In other words, you are expected to utilize a secular, philosophical framework.). This can be done by answering the following series of questions:

- Does the problem/solution harm anyone?

- Are there ways that those harmed (or others) are benefited in a way that justifies the harm? Does the good outweigh the harm?

- In thinking about these benefits and harms, are you considering that some goods are qualitatively better than others and that some harms are qualitatively worse than others?

- Completely apart from the tangible impact of the problem/solution on those affected, is everyone involved being treated appropriately? That is, are there specific “rights” or “duties” that are a part of this case that must be respected? Is there a conflict of rights, duties or obligations? How should the conflict be handled?

An even simpler way of approaching this is to use just two ideas, which, it is fair to say, are good candidates for universal moral principles:

- Do no harm. (Do nothing that increases the risk of harm. If you’re responsible for harm, repair the damage).

- Treat others appropriately. (Actions should respect principles of fairness, justice, equality, truthfulness, dignity, etc. Act responsibly. Keep agreements.)