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MOBTS 2023: 50th Anniversary Conference

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The Use of Recent, Real Life Fraud Cases In The Teaching of Business Ethics

This session illustrates an improved way to teach Business Ethics to graduate students. The traditional method was by: (1) first exposing the class to the ethics of Classical Moral philosophers (e.g. Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Locke, Confucius etc.) and (2) then doing classical historical business cases that have violated the major ethical principles of these philosophers. e.g. cases involving the late 1800s "robber barons, through the ethical lapses that led to the Great Depression, and then on to the early 2000s (ENRON, Worldcom etc.) and the huge banking scandals that led to the Financial Crisis of 2009. Today's business students are increasingly millennials and Generation Z’rs. These business students are less interested in history and desire more recent examples. They react well to a classes that illustrate the ethical boundaries that exist in today's modern business world and the potential consequences of violating such norms. This session introduces a new approach which I now use in my graduate MBA Leadership Class. It reinforces the 'Bridges" Conference theme by suggesting new ideas, exercises and best practices in teaching ethics. This approach suggests three major changes from the traditional way of teaching ethics. The first change streamlines the review of classical ethical philosophers and focuses on only three that are directly relevant to business ethics today. I find that a quick review of Aristotle, Confucius and Kant provides the needed sufficient background. Secondly, a book with the most up-to-date and outstanding business ethics cases is required. Brother Steve Arbogast has written such a book entitled "Resisting Corporate Corruption: Practical Cases in Business Ethics from Enron through SPACs". It contains the most recent, major corruption cases including those in the Post-Financial Era i.e. Theranos, Tesla, Volkswagen, Nikola, and We Work. I find that students react very positively to these cases where they learn first-hand the ethical boundaries that exist in today's business world Lastly, the analytical model that I have the students use in doing these cases is new and challenging. It allows the students the freedom to readily explore the essentials and subtleties of each case. I intend to take the professors present in this session through two of these recent cases using this analytical model.

Gordon Arbogast
Jacksonville University
United States

Arpita Jadav
Jacksonville University
United States


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