Ethics is a crucial component of individual and group behavior and is at the heart of organizations’ responsibilities. This course considers the ethical responsibilities of managers and corporations. We consider individual and organizational business actions and decisions in the light of moral principles and values. We intend to raise difficult ethical challenges and to provide frameworks that inform common patterns of success and failure in managing ethics and corporate responsibilities. In the first part of the course we address these questions at multiple levels of individual, organization, society and international space and in multicultural contexts.

Sustainability means that organizations have also ethical and societal responsibilities that go beyond their economic responsibilities. Sustainability requires organizations to expand their understandings of their role in the society to include other stakeholders such as employees, customers, suppliers, local communities, governments and international organizations. In the second part of the course we discuss the complex stakeholder environments that multinational corporations operate in and emerging governance structures, management systems and business models that can help them align the firms’ interests more closely to the societal expectations.

The course has a hands-on and interactive approach to sustainability and ethical issues and over the years has benefited from talks and contributions by outstanding business leaders, directors and entrepreneurs including: Iqbal Quadir (Grameenphone and B-Kash), Veronique Menou (MSCI Group), Luisa Florez (La Banque Postale – Formerly Axa Asset Management), Kyai Mullei (Mobi Changa), and Wim Leereveld (The Access to Medicine Index).

Learning outcomes

When you successfully complete this course, you should be able to:
 Identify and explain the important ethical issues that arise in business (such as fraudulent behavior, consumer protection, discrimination, and others).
Assess the global challenges (demographic, ecological and societal) that involve the company’s responsibility.
Critically examine the assumptions and values that everyone brings to complex business decisions that raise ethical issues.
Define and apply action plans that address ethical challenges.