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Tag: MBA

Is Teaching Business Ethics a Waste of Time?

Is Teaching Business Ethics a Waste of Time?

Business school and ethics: Can we train MBAs to do the right thing? – Slate Magazine

The only way we’ll get our students to integrate their moral compasses with the practical tools of business we teach them is to incorporate the topic of ethics throughout the curriculum. This will require the accounting and finance and marketing professors to grasp the ethical blind spots inherent in their respective areas, and to appreciate and recognize approaches to lessening them. Professors, in other words, need to be moral architects themselves.

Business school and ethics: Can we train MBAs to do the right thing? – Slate Magazine

Maybe, but I don’t think so. I do think the way like the article says that the way business ethics is taught now is a failure and a disaster. The article recommends embedding ethics in every part of the business curriculum. That would be nice, but it is neither necessary or likely that will happen.

I recommend that business ethics be taught the way I do it. (I know, everybody does – however, hear me out.) I believe in giving business students the opportunity to develop their own moral landscape. I use moral problems, big ones, airline crashes, economic disasters, fires, murders, etc., as examples. Then I ask students the big questions: Who’s responsible and what should be done? They decide within a set of guidelines. I tell them that for every big open ended question, that there are usually around five or so really good answers, eleven to fifteen mediocre answers and an infinity of bad inadequate poorly thought out answers. I tell them to look for the five.

By providing the students with broad guidelines and by refusing to tell them the “right” answers, I engage their judgment. They write brief essays justifying their choices, and then we do it again and again. By the end of the semester, they have created a moral framework, that I hope lasts for their lifetimes certainly for many years. My perception is that self education, self creations in a real sense is the most effective means of education.

James Pilant

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The Dumbest Quote for the Day

The Dumbest Quote for the Day

I teach at a small community college. Students here tend to feel that because they go to a small college that they are going to have trouble competing with students from name schools. I always tell them that they are just as smart as students from anywhere in the country. As evidence of this, I point to the litany of stupidity, overreaching and greed by these graduates of name universities in the banking industry.

Well today, I got a new quote to use:

It’s not a surprise that we know we have crises every five or ten years. My daughter came home from school one day and said, ‘daddy, what’s a financial crisis?’ And without trying to be funny, I said, ‘it’s the type of thing that happens every five, ten, seven, years.’ And she said: ‘why is everybody so surprised?’ So we shouldn’t be surprised…

This is from JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimion. That’s right. You heard it clearly. This financial crisis is just “the type of thing that happens every five, ten, etc.” Do you mean the financial crisis that destroyed a large proportion of the value of American homes, came within an inch of destroying the international banking system and has put millions of people out of work? That one? It seems to me the others were a lot smaller – much, much, much smaller. I hope he is better in other aspects of teaching his children. The story of Santa Claus has more validity.

Mr. Dimion has an MBA from Harvard Business School. You see, my students are just as smart as their students. The evidence is clear. I don’t think I could get any of my students to claim that the current financial crisis is a kind of “seasonal” phenomenon and that we shouldn’t be surprised when the elite educated bankers screw up on in a manner barely conceivable in fiction.

So, my nominations for the dumbest quote of this day (and perhaps this month and year) is Jamie Dimon’s explanations of the regularity of financial disaster.

James Pilant

(First published in January of 2010.)

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