Corporate scandals involving corruption, accounting fraud, bribery, securities violations, corporate espionage, market manipulation, and greed have been far too frequent in the past 20 years.  While statutes, administrative rules and regulations, executive orders and case law specify the minimum legal behavior we expect of American business, this module explores whether business may also owe a duty to engage in ethical behavior that requires more than compliance with the “letter of the law.”    The module also explores some of the behavioral factors that may explain why otherwise ethical individuals and companies make unethical decisions. 

This module introduces you to four ethical theories frequently used to analyze the ethical dimensions of business conduct:  utilitarianism (or consequentialism), Kantian or duty ethics, justice or fairness ethics, and virtue ethics, with its focus on individual character.   After recognizing that an ethical dilemma exists, there are a variety of ethical decision-making models that can be used to analyze and solve ethical dilemmas confronting business. 

Businesses, particularly larger, publicly-traded companies, also adopt ethics codes to assist their employees in making ethical decisions.  You will have the opportunity to explore the types of topics covered in these Codes of Conduct and to assess how successful they might be in establishing a company’s ethical culture.