Have Business Communication Instructors Changed Their Perception of Business Ethics? A Comparative Study
English, Donald, Manton, Edgar, Walker, Janet, Journal of Organizational Culture, Communications and Conflict
The major purpose of this study was to determine if business communication instructors in the Southeastern and Southwestern Regions of the Association for Business Communication changed their perceptions of the teaching of business ethics between 1999 and 2004. This study analyzed and compared the current views of business communication instructors with those in the 1999 study. For example, in 1999, 83 percent of the respondents indicated that they taught business ethics topics in their courses. In the 2004 study, this percentage increased to 92 percent.
Interest in business ethics has grown significantly over the last few years. Most organizations still focus on maximizing profits for investors but many also emphasize appropriate and conscientious operational conduct and its effects on employees, investors, customers, and the entire business community. However, as evidenced by recent events, not all companies follow ethical tenets. Furthermore, in some cases, what a company publicly espouses may be vastly different from what is actually practiced.
Business ethics is currently one of the most important topics in business education instruction. "The Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of business" (AACSB) has studied this issue and is considering how it should be incorporated into the business curriculum. It is increasingly clear that current and future business graduates need information about acceptable business practices in order to perform effectively in ethical business environments.
The problem of this study is to determine if business communication instructors in the Southeastern and Southwestern Regions of the Association for Business Communication have changed their perception of business ethics during the past five years. A questionnaire has been developed and mailed to the business communication instructors in these regions. A similar questionnaire was sent to the same response group in 1999. A comparison of the responses will be made. In light of recent business scandals, it is hypothesized the business communication instructors will be more concerned about ethics instruction now than they were in the past.
OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY
The objectives of this study are to compare the results of the 1999 study with those from the 2004 study. Comparisons will be made for the two years:
1. to determine if business ethics topics were included in the curriculum
2. to determine the class hours spent on business ethics
3. to determine the perceived value of business ethics
4. to determine how respondents rated undergraduate instruction in business ethics
5. to determine if the emphasis on business ethics has changed
6 to determine the business ethics topics taught
7 to determine the value of various teaching methods/materials.
8 to determine how the instructors received their education in ethics.
Since 2001, business educators have become familiar with Enron, Arthur Andersen, WorldCom, Tyco, and others. How has this affected instructor thinking on ethics and teaching an ethics course in colleges of business?
According to David Callahan, author of The Cheating Culture, we seem to be becoming a nation of cheaters. He says, "Executives and workers steal $600 billion from their companies each year compared to the federal deficit total of $560 billion". He blames the "dog eat dog economic climate of the past two decades" and pushes for cultural change (Callahan 2004).
AACSB emphasized in their revised 'Eligibility Procedures and Standards for Business Accreditation' the importance of ethics instruction. One of the standards included is Ethical understanding and reasoning abilities (AACSB, 2004).
In a speech, "Will Our Moral Compass Fail", given to the Athens West Rotary Club, Athens, Georgia in April 2003, Dr. …