Business and Society Module - Online MBA

Introduction and module objectives

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is concerned with the broader role that organisations play in society. Business ethics is the study of the morals of behaviour at the level of the whole organisation.

Both CSR and Business Ethics are important considerations to the modern firm. It would seem that not a day goes by without a news media article about some failure of business ethics or corporate social responsibility. Corporate reputations can be damaged, and sometimes ruined by such failures. The global public has an expectation of appropriate behaviour from business, and these days is in a position to monitor behaviour to levels unheard of pre-internet. If firms do not behave morally and responsibly, then their licence to operate can be removed. Additionally, the responsible and ethical firm will usually find it easier to hire and retain the talent that they need. In many circumstances, paying attention to CSR and ethics can enhance performance on more traditional metrics.

The CSR and Business Ethics module is of necessity integrative, and borrows theory from the fields of strategic management, business policy, politics, sociology and philosophy. These multiple analytical lenses will give students a toolkit to critically appraise organisational challenges in respect of ethics, responsibility, justice and values. Through the use of case studies, videos and role-plays the student will better understand contemporary ethical dilemmas faced by organisations as well as the processes that enlightened organisations have developed to manage such dilemmas.

Learning outcomes

On completion of the module, students should be able to:

  • Understand, provide examples and critically appraise the primary contemporary ethical issues faced by organisations.
  • Explain the growing pressures (regulatory, cultural, economic, legal, social) on organisations to operate ethically and responsibly.
  • Explain the role of the broader stakeholder community of the firm, that is, the stakeholders beyond customers and shareholders.
  • Crucially appraise the impact on corporate reputation of product safety, quality, workplace health and safety failures.
  • Define and explain the general categories of “conflicts of interest” which can affect corporate reputation.
  • Explain in outline how ethical financial reporting differs from more traditional reporting.
  • Critically appraise the general organisational policies and processes developed to respond to ethical dilemmas, for example: 

    -“Fair trade” practices in sales and marketing of products or services.
    -Pricing, invoicing, and contracting
    -Ethical employment practices.
    -The management of intellectual property and proprietary information.
    -The use of privileged / “insider” information.
    -The use of bribes to obtain business
    -The acquisition and use information about others.
    -Security and political activities
    -Environmental protection
    -Supply network management