Change of tack in ethics teaching

The Sloan School of Management at MIT and Simmons College, both in Boston in the US are to launch MBA ethics programmes which shift the focus away from the case study approach to teaching ethics to one that voices values.

The programmes are based on Giving Voice to Values, developed by Mary Gentile, a former Harvard Business School academic.

MIT will present Giving Voice to Values to all its incoming students, approximately 360, during MBA orientation and Simmons is to teach the course to both MBA and undergraduate students.

“This is a big deal, because a leading business school is committing to using this programme during the initial, framing foundational discussion of ethics in the MBA programme,” says Ms Gentile.

“They want to do it early on because it is a ‘positive’ frame, empowering, asking what you can do rather than focusing on ‘thou shalt not’”.

Ms Gentile believes that the case study approach to teaching business ethics adopted by many business schools is only one side of the coin, because it leaves students without the necessary tools to tackle issues that conflict with their values in the “real world”.

With support from the Aspen Institute Business and Society Program and the Yale University School of Management, Ms Gentile has developed Giving Voice to Values, which identifies the ways in which individuals voice their values in the workplace. It then provides opportunities to build the cognitive arguments, communication skills and commitment to do so.

Ms Gentile’s programme is being adopted or adapted at more than 36 business schools including Columbia and Northwestern.

Sloan School of Management at MIT

Simmons College

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