by Diane L. Swanson, PhD Kansas State University
Why this blog?
I am sharing my experience in team teaching ethics with a corporate executive because I want to hear from others who have done something similar. It is difficult to find such experiences documented anywhere; therefore, it would be ideal if Academy of Management members would share their thoughts on this subject here.
How my team teaching with an executive started:
Approximately four years ago, I started team teaching my graduate professional ethics elective in our college of business with a recently retired senior executive. This came about because the then dean of our college stopped me in the hall one day and asked if I wanted to team teach with our newly arrived executive in residence.
I usually pause for at least a few minutes before making any decision, not to mention one that affects my classes. However in this case, I quickly said “yes.” Although I hadn’t yet met this gentleman, the dean told me of his stellar career with a Fortune 500 company and of his sincere interest in business ethics education. I also knew that he was still serving on three boards of directors.
That was enough for me.
To make a long story short, this executive and I soon met to plan our experiment in team teaching. This coming fall will be our fourth semester team teaching this graduate course.
In due time, the dean put me in touch with yet another executive who helped me create an ethics teaching module for my MBA triple bottom line class. Soon afterwards, a law partner of a large global firm started flying to campus twice a year to give lectures on ethics in my undergraduate and graduate classes and to our college’s professional advantage students.
I can attest to the advantages of these arrangements, especially the benefits from the team teaching arrangement.
Benefits of the team teaching:
- The very presence of this executive in the classroom speaks volumes to students about the importance of ethics in the workplace.
- The executive boosts this subject’s relevance by giving concrete examples of how and why ethical behavior in the workplace matters. Student teaching evaluations show as much.
- Students are looking for role models. They want to take advice from a successful business executive, especially when it is given face-to-face in an ethics classroom.
- What this executive has added to the class has influenced the topics covered in this course. Notably, given my teaching partner’s experience as a former senior vice president of a Fortune 500 firm and his role as a current board member for three organizations, I have added material on corporate governance to the course.
- This executive has touched the lives of students in ways he may never know. I have heard from former students who tell me that their interactions with him made a positive difference in their professional lives. Three of them have offered to give back in kind someday. There could be a chain reaction taking shape!
- The executive tells me that he enjoys helping students and giving back to society in this role.
- I continually learn about developments in practice, especially those that affect the C-suite.
Our method in brief:
My teaching partner is active in our classroom. (I now think of it as our classroom!) He attends classes, meets with students in groups, and gives them thoughtful feedback on their presentations. The method that works best for us is that I teach the models and then ask for his comments and observations. Examples of the questions I pose to him include: How is this model relevant to practice in your view? How is it not? Could the model be altered to address practice better?
The most interesting conversations begin. Essentially, we engage in looking at the models and material more critically. Since this elective is just as much a course in critical thinking as it is a course in professional ethics, these conversations are a real plus.
Let’s compare notes!
Again, please feel free to use this blog site to weigh in on this topic. It would be nice to create some notes on best practices!
Diane L. Swanson, PhD
Professor of Management and Edgerly Family Endowed Chair of Business Administration
Founding Chair, Business Ethics Education Initiative
Kansas State University http://cba.k-state.edu/departments-initiatives/business-ethics/index.html
Co-editor: Advancing Business Ethics Education (2008) and Toward Assessing Business Ethics Education (2011)
What does it mean to act ethically?
Is it basically to “do the right thing”? We only have to peer out of our office windows to see that what one thinks is the right thing, the appropriate attitude, justifiable behavior, is utterly, perhaps terrifyingly wrong to someone else. What is the right thing, and who is the arbiter?
As academics, scholar practitioners, or students, much of our work is done privately. No one can see what we’re doing when we’re crafting a paper, analyzing data, or conducting a peer review on someone else’s work. If we cut corners or cheat the risk may not be obvious, or it may take time before those closed-door deeds become public. Other activities are public, and may have an immediate impact on other’s well-being, or careers. Even so, the right action, the ethical behavior, may not be entirely clear.
Members of the Academy need to be on the same page about what is right, and we can readily find that page– it’s called our Code of Ethics. The code spells out expectations for all of us in General and Professional Principles. Ethical Standards spell out “enforceable rules” for activities within the context of the AOM.
All members are expected to uphold the Code, but it is clear that many have not reviewed it to see what they have endorsed by joining the AOM, or perhaps wait until a problem arises before consulting it.
Like any document of this kind, it is useless unless we bring it to life in the ways that we think and act. The Ethics Education Committee (EEC) is responsible for bringing the Code of Ethics to the attention of our members– and the Ombuds Committee is responsible for providing guidance when dilemmas arise. EEC members are available to assist your Division Consortia, or other sessions you offer at the annual conference. We offer a flexible menu of options, and encourage you to contact us to discuss the best way we can work together in Atlanta.
We can offer the following types of sessions for your meeting, Division Consortium or Committee:
- Presentation and Discussion: A 60-minute interactive session to provide a broad overview of business and professional ethics, values and the AOM Code of Ethics.
- Focused Session and Discussion: A 30 to 60-minute session on a specific topic such as academic honesty, ethical dilemmas in collaborative research and writing, or an area you identify.
- Q & A Forum: Collect the questions your doctoral students or early career faculty have about ethics and the AOM in advance, and will come prepared to answer, and discuss them.
- Code and Procedures FAQ: A 30-minute introduction to the AOM Code of Ethics, who does what at the Academy in the ethics area, including the role of the Ombuds and ways to get help.
- Discussant: An EEC member can attend an ethics session you are offering in a consortium, PDW, or symposium, and answer questions as needed about the AOM Code, Ombuds roles etc.
Please contact EEC Chair Janet Salmons (jsalmons[at]vision2lead.com or with the contact form below) to discuss ways the EEC can help ensure that new and returning members your area of the Academy are familiar with the principles and standards they agreed to uphold.
by Don Dunn, PhD
We have researched ethical leadership for nearly 100 years, but not as extensively and with as complicated methodology as during the new millennium. Due to the ethical failure or dark leadership of so many corporations during the early years of the 21st Century, the study of company ethics has hit a feverish pitch in looking at best practices and organizational behavioral results.
Much of the literature on ethical leadership, specifically in the area of how we lead and manage ethics at the organizational or corporate level, offers a wide variety of components or processes needed to assure that a company operates ethically. The literature offers components such as codes, rewards, discipline, ethical training and communication, decision-making tools, accountability processes, and/or the new kid on the block – ethical audits. In reviewing the literature, I noticed that there was not a consensus on one model of consistent components to lead and manage ethics. Would it not be advantageous to know that there was some sort of model or framework by which any organization in any industry of any size could create, improve, or enhance its ethical culture? Would it not be beneficial to busy executives to have a framework that could easily be implemented in their organizations that would guide company ethics?
That was the problem and purpose of my research using a qualitative, multiple case study approach sampling three organizations of global, regional, and local reach that had demonstrated strong ethical processes. In researching these organizations, collecting data from three different sources, I was able to determine that a model of consistent components emerged from the single- and cross-case analysis.
The model is called the Moldable Model© (MM) because it has a fixed framework of three components that all organizations can use, but then can adapt or mold those fixed components to fit company-specific needs. The MM includes the fixed framework of these components: role modeling, context, and accountability or as delivered in the three R’s of corporate ethics: (1) Role modeling, (2) research Reasons or outcomes for being ethical, and (3) Responsibility or holding employees accountable for company values. Role modeling based on social learning and social exchange theories can be implemented in different ways in the organization; it is a leadership function (influence relationship). Reasons to be ethical are numerous, and specific reasons can be selected by the company to share with and to motivate employees toward ethical conduct. Responsibility or holding all employees responsible for company values is a management function (authority relationship) and includes a choice of several activities such as hiring protocols, consistent ethics training, communication of company ethics, rewards and discipline, ethical audits, and/or employee evaluations that include adherence to company values.
Specific explanations and implementation processes of the MM are available in my recently published book by Business Expert Press: Designing Ethical Workplaces: The Moldable Model©. The book was written for use in executive MBA programs and for PDWs, while based on solid research.