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Monday, February 11, 2013

Does an 'A' in Ethics Have Any Value?

B-Schools Step Up Efforts to Tie Moral Principles to Their Business Programs, but Quantifying Those Virtues Is Tough

By MELISSA KORN
The Wall Street Journal
Originally published on February 6, 2013

Business-school professors are making a morality play.

Four years after the scandals of the financial crisis prompted deans and faculty to re-examine how they teach ethics, some academics say they still haven't gotten it right.

Hoping to prevent another Bernard L. Madoff-like scandal or insider-trading debacle, a group of schools, led by University of Colorado's Leeds School of Business in Boulder, is trying to generate support for more ethics teaching in business programs.

"Business schools have been giving students some education in ethics for at least the past 25 or 30 years, and we still have these problems," such as irresponsibly risky bets or manipulation of the London interbank offered rate, says John Delaney, dean of University of Pittsburgh's College of Business Administration and Katz Graduate School of Business.

He joined faculty and administrators from Massachusetts' Babson College, Michigan State University and other schools in Colorado last summer in what he says is an effort to move schools from talk to action. The Colorado consortium is holding conference calls and is exploring another meeting later this year as it exchanges ideas on program design, course content and how to build support among other faculty members.

But some efforts are at risk of stalling at the discussion stage, since teaching business ethics faces roadblocks from faculty and recruiters alike. Some professors see ethics as separate from their own subjects, such as accounting or marketing, and companies have their own training programs for new hires.

The entire story is here.

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