Ethics in Global Business


Pamela Robinson

Introduction and Aims

This module will introduce ideas and controversies that are central to business ethics. In essence, business ethics is concerned with what is considered to be morally right and wrong in terms of the way business conducts itself. This is particularly so, in terms of how the more powerful players – TNCs – impact social conditions in the countries they source product from and the markets in which they operate. One of the key questions raised in this module is whether business should be held accountable for ethical responsibilities beyond the maximisation of profit, and indeed, whether it is possible to be a business operating in a competitive market and still be ethical. The teaching sessions will focus on the ethical issues that affect business management in a globalised world. The key objective of the module is to enhance the students’ capacity to recognize ethical dilemmas which such organizations face. Drawing on examples from global businesses and the involvement of practitioners, the module will develop the students’ ability to manage the ethical decisions that they are likely to encounter in their professional careers.

The questions which will be addressed in this course are controversial. Some members of the class may have strong views about an issue, and we will certainly have advocates of different points of view and ideas of what constitutes good ethical conduct in the class. Be prepared to take some risks and express your opinion. You should expect your views to be challenged. The learning you get from this course will depend on your involvement and the effort you put into participating in the class activities. 

Objectives and Learning Outcomes

By the end of the module students should be able to:

  • Understand ethical issues related to the contemporary power and influence of TNCS and MNCs;
  • Understand ethical issues involved in responding to different social actors and stakeholder groups’ expectations;
  • Explain ethical issues in the light of changing systems of corporate governance;
  • Understand the political and economic forces that act as drivers of corporate social responsibility;
  • Develop organizational policies to regulate business ethical behaviour and design a project to implement these policie


  • Individual assignment 3,000 words (80%)
  • Group presentation (20%)