Showing Business Students How to Contribute to Organizational Cultures Grounded in Moral Character

Showing Business Students How to Contribute to Organizational Cultures Grounded in Moral Character

William I. Sauser Jr. (College of Business, Auburn University, USA) and Ronald R. Sims (College of William and Mary, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-3153-1.ch027
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Abstract

The ethical crisis in business is very real. Countering this crisis by creating organizational cultures grounded in moral character is the challenge we face as business leaders if we are to regain the respect and confidence of the public. As educators of future business leaders, how can we prepare our students to understand, appreciate, and contribute to the establishment of cultures of character in the organizations which employ them—and which they may ultimately lead? In this chapter the authors distinguish among four corporate cultures with respect to ethics in business—cultures of defiance, compliance, neglect, and character—and present a blueprint for constructing an organizational culture grounded in moral character. With respect to showing business students how to contribute to such a culture, the authors then (a) describe how to establish an effective learning context for teaching about business ethics, (b) proffer a number of practical suggestions for student assignments and experiences that can empower students to understand, appreciate, and contribute to organizational cultures of character, and (c) explain how to enhance experiential learning by conducting an effective debriefing session. They conclude the chapter by providing two examples from their own experience illustrating how these ideas can be incorporated into programs designed to show business students how to contribute to organizational cultures grounded in moral character.
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Organizational Cultures And Character

According to Trevino and Nelson (2004, p. 225), “‘Culture’ has become a common way of thinking about and describing an organization’s internal world—a way of differentiating one organization’s ‘personality’ from another.” Schermerhorn (2005) defines organizational culture as “the system of shared beliefs and values that develops within an organization and guides the behavior of its members” (p. G-12). “Whenever someone, for example, speaks of ‘the way we do things around here,’ they are talking about the culture,” continues Schermerhorn (2005, p. 96). Using such important components of culture as core values, stories, heroes, symbols, and rites and rituals, ethical leaders must influence the organization and its members to incorporate and exhibit desirable virtues and behaviors (Sauser, 2005b).

Sauser (2005b) has distinguished among four types of organizational culture with respect to their stance toward ethical behavior in business. This classification scheme, modeled in part on Schermerhorn’s (2005) typology of strategies for corporate responsibility, holds that there are four basic types of organizational culture with respect to moral thought and action in business. They are defiance, compliance, neglect, and character.

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