FOUNDATION OF EUROPEAN THOUGHT

Program

EN IT

Updated A.Y. 2016-2017

Course

Foundation of European Thought: A Business Ethics perspective

Type of course

 

Degree Program

Bachelor in Business Administration

Year

Second year

Semester

Spring, second module

Credits

3 CFU

Pre-requisites

 

 

Lecturer

Department

Room

Phone

Email

Office Hours

Link to curriculum

Massimiliano M. Pellegrini

Management & Law

Building B, P1s23

+390672595928

massimiliano.pellegrini@uniroma2.it

Wednesday 11am-1pm, please book an appointment by email.

 

Subject learning objectives:

The principal aim of the module is twofold;

1)      to transfer to students a general understanding and knowledge about relevant ethical theories used in the management field, along with a general presentation of the business ethics discipline. The theoretical core of the module is the study of modern and Ancient Western philosophies theories, in particular: utilitarianism, deontology and virtue Ethics.

2)     to let students apply those contents to their own experience or to real business cases, in order to increase their ethical sensitivity or develop an ethical “skill” to manage complex situations.

In addition to that, the module is structured to let the students lead their own learning processes. The students are challenged to reflect upon their own decisions and to understand their own process of judgment. Through the assessments, students are also stimulated to improve their academic writing skills, as they need to create a professional report for a CEO, and their communication skills, as they need to create a professional presentation for a board meeting.  

 

Programme

 

 

Week

Topics

Material

1st

Part 1. Presentation of the module and of the assessment strategy.

The course starts with a presentation of the structure and the precise explanation of the assessment modalities and procedures.

 

Part 2. Introduction to business ethics.

The module starts with an introductory explanation of what business ethics is and why it is important. It will be presented briefly what Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is and different interpretations of it. It will be also shown how to interpret business situations in terms of stakeholders and their interests.

 

Part 3. Writing a reflective log.

It will be introduced the reflective log, a tool that will be used throughout the module to enrich the learning experience of students. It will be briefly presented how to write in a critical and reflective way, with examples of different levels of depth.

 

Part 4. Seminar activities: The trolley dilemma and reflective log.

Students will directly experience some elementary ethical tests to get familiar with the ethical discourse and analysis. At the end it will be asked to write the first reflective log of the module. Students will write a paragraph trying to explain their decisions in the test.

 

 

 

(Part 2. and 3.)

Slides

 

(Part 3.)

Moon, J. (2001). Reflection in higher education learning. Working Paper 4. The Higher Education Academy. (appendix 2 pp.22-26)

 

(Part 4.)

Ethical dilemma material

2nd

 

Part 1: Western ethical theories

This part is the central philosophical core of the module.

It will be presented three different normative ethical theories that may help an agent to take decisions.

1.      Consequentialism (Utilitarianism), based on outcomes of an action.

2.      Non-consequentialism (Deontology), based on the intrinsic principles guiding an action

3.      Alternative approaches to Ethics (Virtue ethics), based on the development of the character.

 

Part 2. Seminar activity: BP case study and reflective log.

From the text book will be taken an exemplary business case about BP and its oil pipeline. The case will be used to analyse a complex context and to ponder possible alternative scenarios using different normative ethical theories. Students will write at the end a reflective paragraph about their decisions and what they have learnt from the activity.

 

(Part 1.)

Slides

 

Crane A. & Matten D. (2015), Business Ethics (fourth edition), Oxford University Press, Oxford. Ch. 3 Evaluating business ethics (pp.92-108; 114-137)

 

Sinnott-Armstrong W., “Consequentialism”, E.N. Zalta (ed.) The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2015 Edition), https://plato.stanford.edu/archive/win2015/entries/consequentialism/

 

Alexander L. & Moore M. “Deontological Ethics”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2016 Edition), E.N. Zalta (ed.), https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2016/entries/ethics-deontological/

 

Hursthouse R. & Pettigrove G., “Virtue Ethics”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2016 Edition), E.N. Zalta (ed.) https://plato.stanford.edu/archives/win2016/entries/ethics-virtue/

 

(Part 2.)

BP case

3rd

 

Part 1. Seminar activity “St. Albans Family Enterprise” case study and reflective log.

A fictional case about a real situation in a business context. Students will be a manager who needs to deal with a complex decision to make. Applying different normative ethical theories students should offer suggestions to solve the case. Such direct perspective involves students in first person and stimulates a personal approach to ethics and decision making. Students will write at the end a reflective paragraph about their decisions and what they have learnt from the activity.

 

 

 

(Part. 1)

“St. Albans Family Enterprise” case

4th

 

Presentations

 

Students’ material and presentations

5th

 

Presentations

 

Students’ material and presentations

6th

 

Presentations

 

Students’ material and presentations

 

 

 

 

Course Materials

–       Crane A. & Matten D. (2015), Business Ethics (fourth edition), Oxford University Press, Oxford.

 

–       Zalta E.N. (ed.), The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, The Metaphysics Research Lab, Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford University, Stanford (CA) https://plato.stanford.edu/

 

Integrative material

–        Moon, J. (2001). Reflection in higher education learning. Working Paper 4. York, UK.: The Higher Education Academy.  

https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/4229/a98df79718ce77853256d4343ccf6e6510e9.pdf

 

 

Teaching Methods

 

The teaching approach of this module is not traditional. Lectures are limited to the explanation of basic knowledge and contents necessary for the module, in an interactive and participative discussion. However, the largest part of the module is based on other teaching methods that facilitated independent and self-lead learning trajectories. Students, during the sessions apply theoretical contents to real cases and experience in first person aspects of the ethical decision making (case studies & tests). Finally, to improve the learning process, students are asked to reflect upon their experience and thus get more confidence about their real learning processes. Indeed, at the end of each seminar activity a reflective log needs to be produced.  

 

 

Assessment objectives and subject learning outcomes

 

For attending students*:

1.     60% Group presentation about the application of a normative ethical theory to a business case.

The presentation should emulate a board meeting where you as managerial team are asked to report on a current ethical problem of the company. You should present the ethical problem and main actors involved and then using one normative ethical theory (utilitarianism, deontology or virtue ethics), you should give some suggestions and indicate the most proper conduct(s) for the company. The ethical problem selected for the presentation should be real and a contemporary issue faced normally by companies. Although you can use a fictional company, if you want, you need to use examples from the business world to support your discussion. The presentation will last approximatively 30 minutes; 20 minutes for the presentation and 10 for the Q&A session.

2.     40% An individual short report 500 words (+/- 10%) about the suggestions adopted in the business case presented. Deadline on the 3rd of April, submission via email to the lecturer.

You should write an individual short report to attach to the presentation. In this case you should reflect upon the suggestions made during the presentation and explain how the ethical theory prescribes certain conduct(s).

* A registry of attendance will be taken every session. To be considered attending students, it is necessary to have an attendance of circa 70% or above (4 sessions attended out of 6) and write at least one reflective log about a seminar activity.

 

For non-attending students:

1.     100% Essay 2500 words (+/- 10%) about the application of a normative ethical theory to a business case.

You should write an individual essay about a company’s ethical problem that you can freely select. The ethical problem selected for the presentation should be real and a contemporary issue faced normally by companies. Although you can use a fictional company, if you want, you need to use examples from the business world to support your discussion. You are a manager designated from the CEO to report about this current ethical issue and this is your final report. You should present the ethical problem in details and main actors with their interests. Then using one normative ethical theory (utilitarianism, deontology or virtue ethics), you should give some suggestions and indicate the most proper conduct(s) for the company. You should reflect upon this suggestion(s) and clearly explain how the ethical theory prescribes certain conduct(s). Submissions should be made via email to lecturer on the day scheduled for the written assessment.