Business Ethics Module

by Chris Moberg

This business module is not course specific and will require approximately 2-3 hours of class time. I plan to implement this module in 2 or 3 class sessions throughout the quarter.


  1. Knowledge of Basic Ethical Theories
    • Consequential Ethics (Theory, Problems, Counter examples, Modifications)
    • Deontological Ethics (Theory, Problems, Counter examples, Modifications)
    • Modern Ethical Debate (Primarily Georgetown and Feminist)

    At first, I will deliver this information using traditional lecture but would like to eventually develop a web quest for the students to complete before class.

  2. Raise Awareness, Promote Reflection and Critical ThinkingThis learning outcome will be accomplished with a variety of exercises, tools, and assignments including:
    • Small Group Exercises (e.g. Heart Transplant, Life Boat)
    • Individual Exercises/Role Plays (e.g. What you do in this scenario?)
    • Questionnaires (e.g. On-line ethical surveys; student cheating research)
    • Current Event Discussions
    • Guest Speakers
    • Reflection Papers
    • Ethical Mission Statements
  3. Ethics DeliverablesAlthough I plan to use a variety of exercises each quarter, there will be two deliverables required each quarter.A. Ethical Reflection Paper – a 2-3 page paper where students are required to describe an ethical dilemma they have faced, what they did, if anything, to deal with the problem, and what they learned from the experience. In the past, this paper has been either an extra credit opportunity or an assignment worth 5% of the course grade.B. Ethical Mission Statement – ideally, this would be a 2-3 page document that includes a brief, specific ethical mission statement that students create for themselves to guide their conduct in their business careers. I would also ask them to explain what tools, resources, and processes they plan to use to evaluate tough decisions they face in the future.

Class Session #1
1. Small Group Exercise (e.g. Life Boat, Heart Transplant, What would you do scenarios)
Time: 30-45 minutes (30- exercise/ 15 class discussion)

2. Basic Ethics Lecture
Main goal would be to cover the two extremes (Kant and Consequential), covering the tenets of each theory, the limitations, and modifications. Throughout this lecture/discussion, I would ask the students which theories they used in small group exercise.
Time: 30-45 minutes
Total Time: 90 minutes

Other Class Sessions
Throughout the rest of the quarter, I would like to have 2-3 more 15-30 minute in-class exercises related to ethics using many of the tools previously discussed. For example, whenever I have a guest speaker in class, I always ask them to discuss ethics. I also share current event articles on ethics throughout the quarter.

The use of guest speakers and current events varies from quarter to quarter so I want to formally plan on at least 2 other short exercise in class such as reviewing my student cheating research or more small group scenarios.

End-of-Quarter Deliverables
1. Ethical Reflection Paper
2. Ethical Mission Statement

The reflection paper is pretty self-explanatory but I will need to provide some guidance to the students about the components of the ethical mission statement.

Alice and Linda are two of your best friends. One night you see Alice kissing Bob, who has been Linda’s boyfriend for a year. They see you and tell you that this is the first time they have kissed and they realize it is a mistake. They ask you not to tell Linda. What do you do?

You have just started working for Banana Republic in the mall near your house during winter break. You are really excited about the job because you are thinking about a retailing career after graduation, but also because of the extra spending money you will earn and the 50% off employee discount you receive for all store merchandise you purchase. Shortly after you start working, several of your friends, and even your sister, ask you to buy merchandise for them using their discount. It is pretty easy to buy the clothes they want during slow times using your discount so the likelihood of getting caught is pretty small. What do you do?

You are working for an extremely popular bar during summer vacation. Shortly after you start working, one of the experienced bartenders tells you that the other bartenders will occasionally collect money for a drink but not ring it into the register, and that they place that money into the tip jar for everyone to share later. He claims that doing this several times a night will net each of the bartenders $50 more dollars in tips. What do you do?

You are working during the summer a large mass merchandise store. Shortly after you begin working there, one of your co-workers shows you how he, and many of the other employees, are stealing merchandise by taking it to a friend that works at the returns counter. By taking the merchandise to the returns counter, you can walk out of the store with the stuff without being checked by security guards. You decide not steal anything but wonder whether you should tell a manager about all the employees that are stealing. What do you do?

You are working one summer at a restaurant as a waiter/waitress. At the end of the night, the company policy is for you to give 15% of your tips to the busboys and dishwashers for helping you serve your customers. Shortly after you start working there, one of your fellow co-workers tells you that many of the other waiters/waitresses lie about how much they make in tips each night so that they can give less money to the busboys and dishwashers. Because the restaurant has no computerized system for tracking your tips, you could easily underreport the amount of your tips each night so that you can keep more money. What do you do?

You have two choices for summer jobs – one job pays $10 an hour but reports your earnings to the IRS and takes taxes out of your check. The other pays $20 an hour but the money is given to you “under the table” so that no taxes would be taken out. Which job do you take?

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