I came across this blog on business ethics which I thought was pretty appropriate considering the things we’ve talked about in class over the past few weeks. The blog first mentioned an article found in Slate magazine to address the question of whether or not we should be teaching ethics in business. In the article that the blog introduces, MBA students were asked why they would want to become a CEO. The first two responses are “I want to make a difference” and “I enjoy a challenge.” The third reason anyone would want to be a CEO is of course, “Making gobs of money.”To answer the question of whether or not we can train MBAs to do the right thing, the blog author James Pilant, including myself, are under a mutual agreement. Business ethics isn’t something we can learn by reading a book or taking an exam for a Pass or Fail score. Many business leaders think they understand what is right from wrong, but in all actuality, there are dozens of unethical CEO’s who are more concerned with their own self-interest rather than the good of the company and economy. I do think that we should be teaching business ethics, but perhaps in a different fashion than the Slate magazine article suggested by handing the reins over to the professors to assign a paper or two regarding the topic.
The blog author James Pilant makes a number of good ideas on how we should be teaching business ethics in training MBAs. James believes that giving business students the opportunity to develop their own moral landscape is first and foremost the key to their future. The kind of moral or immoral human being will be has pretty much been determined up to this point in our lives and our ethical decisions will be based on how we have been brought up, what experiences we have encountered, and what we personally believe is right from wrong. James uses moral problems in teaching business students that involve airline crashes, economic disasters, fires, and murders, which I think we touched on in class one day. According to Pilant, self education and self creation is the most effective means of education.
I definitely have to agree that our own self education will determine what kind of CEO we will become. Will we be another Steve Jobs or a Phil Knight? Will we engage in ruthless and unethical behavior to pursue our own self interests? Or will we follow the rules and help build a company known for its adherence to accounting principles and benefits to society? By the time many of us pursue an MBA, the fate of the future companies we will work for will already be determined. Learning right from wrong from a business standpoint will be beneficial, but the real determining factor will lie in our own moral compasses.