Business Ethics Competencies: Controversies, Contexts, and Implications for Business Ethics Training

Business Ethics Competencies: Controversies, Contexts, and Implications for Business Ethics Training

David Cramm (Ethics Emporium, Canada) and Ronel Erwee (University of Southern Queensland, Australia)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-8195-8.ch067


This chapter aims to discuss the divergent views of 102 practitioners and academics about business ethics competencies and potential implications for business ethics training. It presents, first, an introduction to the nature of the misalignment between academia and industry and, second, business ethics training issues and controversies. Next, the two phases of the research, including document analysis and a survey in Canada and the US, are noted. When considering practitioner needs, potentially over- or under-emphasized competencies are identified by means of a survey to shed light on the extent of this misalignment, so that future instructional efforts can focus on increasing content considered by practitioners to be under-emphasized, while reducing the content considered to be over-emphasized. Finally, a proposed business ethics competency model is provided, as well as a comprehensive content selection model for business ethics development, designed and recommended for business ethics practitioners and academics.
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In the absence of clearly defined essential knowledge, skills, abilities and traits, those charged with developing corporate training courses are left to their own devices, to determine what content is most important or appropriate from a vast sea of potential material. Guidelines influencing the selection of appropriate content have not been synthesized into a pragmatic and robust model to guide curriculum developers.

Tello, Swanson, Floyd, and Caldwell (2013), as well as Floyd, Xu, Atkins, and Caldwell (2013) point out that less than a third of American business schools offer a stand-alone course in business ethics, that there is great flexibility in crafting curricula and a divergence of perspectives among American academics about the link between business ethics education and the ethical levels of business practice. Dzuranin, Shortridge, and Smith (2013) present assessment data of their Integrated Ethics Framework program. The data confirmed that their American students’ awareness of ethical issues and ability to identify appropriate decision alternatives for ethical dilemmas were improved by the Integrated Ethics Framework program.

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