MBA News: Can You Train B-School Students to Be Ethical?

Ray Fishman and Adam Galinsky, professors at Columbia Business School and the Kellogg School of Management, respectively, recently posed the question “Can You Train Business School Students to Be Ethical?” and their subsequent answer on Slate. So, can you train business students in this way? In short, their answer is that students can be trained but that schools are not doing so right now.

Maybe that sounds a little depressing, but Fishman and Galinsky argue that MBA programs can teach students/professionals to be moral architects—meaning that MBA programs would not focus on training students to think ethically when challenged but would instead give students tools to ensure that ethical decision making is part of an ongoing process. For example, instead of a managing director at a bank asking himself whether he should sign off on a deal, as the rewards loom in the background, the bank might have an ethical checklist that he is obliged to follow to see whether a deal is acceptable (reducing the influence of the money in decision making).

Maybe in a few years your first-year business ethics class will be called “Becoming a Moral Architect.” We shall see…

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