ELE 3710 Business and Professional Ethics


ELE 3710 Business and Professional Ethics

Responsible for the course
Johannes Brinkmann

Department of Strategy

According to study plan

ECTS Credits

Language of instruction

Business and professional ethics as a course topic has two main functions. On the one hand, ethics is potentially helpful when it comes to analyzing, handling and not least preventing moral conflict cases in business contexts. On the other hand, business ethics invites a constructive and critical look at business professional roles, at business practices, and not least at other business school disciplines.

The course emphasizes work with cases and it reflects that the subject business and professional ethics should be a field of good listening, reflection and discussion. For a first impression, watch perhaps a popular presentation of what the field is about such as the one by St Gallen university: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0NkGtNU_9w or search on your own for online presentations of business ethics and/or of corporate responsibility.

Learning outcome

Acquired knowledge
After completing the course, students should:

  • know the most important terminology, theories and authors' names within normative and descriptive business ethical theory
  • understand the strengths and weaknesses of chosen approaches

Acquired skills
After completing the course students should:
  • be able to apply concepts and theories fruitfully and critically, to business ethical and professional ethical problems in the literature, as well as in real business and business school life
  • be able to draft and organize work with real moral conflict situations in business contexts
  • be able to identify ethical aspects in other business school subjects
  • be able to ask critical questions about such theories and about business practices

  • Ethics means reflection about complexity, dilemmas, questions of right and wrong, in this case in business and professional contexts
  • After completing the course, students should have acquired a reflected attitude when it comes to their own morality, i.e. have developed personal ethics and a sense of social responsibility as a business school graduate
  • also, and not the least, students should have acquired an ability and a willingness to follow up words with deeds, never forgetting that business ethics is about the wise and responsible balancing of business and non-business considerations

No special prerequisites.

Compulsory reading
Crane, Andrew, Dirk Matten. 2015. Business ethics : managing corporate citizenship and sustainability in the age of globalization. 4th ed. Oxford University Press. Students may replace the whole Crane&Matten book or chapters of it by a comparable text (in agreement with the teacher).

Collection of articles:
Brinkmann, J., ed.. 2016. Additional readings in Business and professional ethics (online text collection). These texts will be made available via It's Learning, either as pdf-files or through links, during the first third of the Spring term

Recommended reading
Brinkmann, Johannes. 2008. Ubehagelig næringslivsetikk : en essaysamling. Licentia forlag

Course outline
  • Why moral conflict cases are ubiquitous
  • Cases sorted by fields, with debriefing and discussion: human resource management ethics, marketing and PR ethics, professional ethics, environmental ethics, cross-cultural business ethics
  • Business and professional ethics – additional topics and approaches
  • Business ethics and corporate responsibility, structured by different kinds of stakeholders
  • Business ethics as a research and a teaching discipline
  • Different approaches to moral philosophy. With a focus on discourse ethics and a Socratic dialogue in the Nelson-Heckmann tradition, see about the latter perhaps http://www.sfcp.org.uk/socratic-dialogue-2/
  • Thinking beyond moral conflict cases: business ethics as professional ethics

Computer-based tools
No specified computer-based tools are required, but the course exploits and refers to useful web-based resources

Learning process and workload
The students are expected to document their learning process across various assignments and in a minimum diary (see below). The work on the term paper begins typically two weeks after the start of the course, at the latest.

Recommended workload in hours:
Student activity
Lecture participation
Prepare for lectures, follow up lectures
Read mandatory
/recommended course readings independently of class
Write term paper, individual and group work together
Assignments and indiv feedback
Other group work during and in addition to class , e.g. related to presentations
Total recommended use of time

Students are expected to write a short diary of one's learning process, covering each class meeting typically with 3-5 lines. This diary must be available as a basis for a short conversation with the instructor in the periphery of a class meeting.

The final grade in the course is based on the following activities and weights:

1) A term paper written by groups of 2 or 3 students accounts for 60 % of the grade in the course.
2) Group presentation in class, accounts for 25 % of the grade in the course.
3) Individual participation/assignment (presentation of a book chapter or similar text, or writing a term paper review), accounts for 15 % of the grade in the course. (Students are expected to show up for at least 80% of all class sessions).

Examination code(s)
ELE 37101 - Process evaluation, counts 100% towards the final grade in ELE 3710, 7,5 credits.

Examination support materials
All support materials are allowed.

Re-sit examination
A re-sit is held in connection with the next scheduled exam in the course.
Students who are taking new exam must take the course all over including all the activities on which the evaluation is based.

Additional information
The term paper topic is normally chosen from a lecturer's list which will be made available in the second session the latest. As an alternative, the group members choose a topic themselves and ask for approval by the lecturer. The max term paper length is 15x350 words; ToC, abstract and necessary appendices are permitted in addition.
The group presentation is peer-graded, but the lecturer has a veto right
An additional text selection is updated once a year and preferably available online instead of in paper.
A handout with recommended additional readings in English, Norwegian and other languages will be made available as a handout and/or on it's learning