Workshop: business ethics in China


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Presentation as the basis of a discussion on the business ethics curriculum in China. The audience were largely teachers of business ethics from Chinese universities.

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Workshop: business ethics in China

  1. 1. Teaching business ethics in China Robert Shaw Graduate School of Business Guangdong University of Foreign Studies 2nd International Symposium on Corporate Responsibility & Sustainable Development 第二届国际企业责任和可持续发展研 讨会
  2. 2. 2 Agenda 1. Business ethics in the West 2. Business ethics in China
  3. 3. 3 1 Business ethics education in the West New topics New aims Research is becoming more profound
  4. 4. 4 The purpose of Business Schools About half the Business Schools in the West emphasise ethics Who decides the curriculum? Produce employable graduates, honest workers Business ethics is the battle ground Example: Entrepreneurship
  5. 5. 5 Misunderstandings about business ethics Ethics is about what people ought to do Contrast with science Contrast with the law If you want to know how to get people to obey the law, ask the police, criminologists, psychologists, sociologists Business ethics courses will not make people more honest, nor should they try to do this
  6. 6. 6 Is this book about business ethics?
  7. 7. 7
  8. 8. 8 Is moral development theory about ethics? How children become mature moral adults Stage theories of moral development Cognitive development
  9. 9. 11 How does the law relate to business ethics? Is business ethics not just a matter of obeying the law? Most of the cases of dishonesty in the news are not of much interest to those with a serious interest in ethics If you want to know how to get people to obey the law, ask the police, criminologists, psychologists, sociologists Ethics appears in two places in relation to the law Policy and the formulation of laws The use of discretion
  10. 10. 12 Discretionary justice Kenneth Culp Davis Professor in Administrative Law University of Chicago Discretion is a tool, indispensable for the individualization of justice … Rules alone, untempered by discretion, cannot cope with the complexities of modern government and modern justice The mechanical application of a rule means injustice … what is needed is individualised justice
  11. 11. 13 Discretionary justice There is always a gap between a rule and its application – discretion This theory is not just about the law Applying rules = implementing policy A course for chief executives Research on rules involves The philosophy of language Universals / particulars Free will / determinism
  12. 12. 14 Traditional topics in business ethics The subject business ethics appeared in the 1960s Topics: Employee dishonesty Codes of conduct Fair working conditions - health and safety Respect for other cultures The horrors when corporations are caught lying Monitoring email Taking and giving bribes Child labour in foreign countries Whistle blowing Workplace rights - drug testing, surveillance The joys of corporate social responsibility
  13. 13. 15 Topics in business ethics New problematics: Social justice –distribution of wealth Economic theory – neoliberalism Capitalism & socialism Democracy & other systems Corporations & morality The effect of technology on society Ethics of cyberspace Eco-phenomenology Human rights Indigenous rights – land rights, cultural harvest Animal rights Open access to data/science/government information
  14. 14. 16 The new business ethics Ethics in as it appears in Public policy Economics Social theory Political theory Methods of critical analysis Draws upon the discipline of philosophy
  15. 15. 17 The aims of business ethics The goal – courses To discuss what people ought to do Moral dilemmas Scholarship The goal – students Develop decision-making skills To make better decisions [& act differently] Scholarship
  16. 16. 19 Business ethics courses – a tradition of 2,500 years Parmenides & Kant – rationality Aristotle – flourishing & codes of ethics Kant –moral autonomy & deontology Bentham & Mill –utilitarianism
  17. 17. 20 The aims of business ethics courses Moral autonomy The moral person / leader / manager is EITHER Heteronomous – follows rules OR Autonomous – independent in thought and action Kant: If you are morally autonomous, you Make your own decisions Do so rationally Have strength-of-will, act as you decide
  18. 18. 21 Influences on business ethics courses University teachers teach what they research
  19. 19. 22 The scholar practitioner What is the basis of policy? The British Treasury in the early 1900s SP applies to government business
  20. 20. 23 2 Business ethics education in China
  21. 21. 24 2 Business ethics education in China
  22. 22. 25 2 Business ethics education in China
  23. 23. 26 2 Business ethics education in China
  24. 24. 27 2 Business ethics education in China
  25. 25. 28 2 Business ethics education in China
  26. 26. 29 2 Business ethics education in China
  27. 27. 30 2 Business ethics education in China
  28. 28. 31
  29. 29. 32 Ethics advances in China 2006 Rothlin B (2004) Becoming a Top-Notch Player: 18 rules of international business ethics (In Chinese) Rules and critical thinking
  30. 30. 33 What I see in China 80% of businesses small or medium Nationalism Values Pride Confidence Unity Localisation = Role of leadership National self-determination Identity Openness to ideas The Chinese way
  31. 31. 34 Approaches to business C0mpetitition Capitalism Stakeholders Community Truth/Virtue
  32. 32. 35 The way ahead
  33. 33. 36 My personal suggestions for China Throw away the Western textbooks Bring Chinese and Western philosophers into critique Build on existing ethics courses Understand about case studies Relate business ethics to Chinese theories of management Support Chinese scholarship / research Address the evil of examinations
  34. 34. Thank you 2nd International Symposium on Corporate Responsibility & Sustainable Development 第二届国际企业责任和可持续发展研 讨会