Publication Date04 May 2020
Date04 May 2020
AuthorTashfeen Ahmad
SubjectStrategy,Business ethics,Sustainability
Students reflect on the role of ethics in business management
Ethics is an increasingly important subject in university business courses as students
entering the work world need to be equipped with the decision-making skills to deal with
ethical problems.
This paper seeks to test studentslevel of awareness of ethical issues and their
understanding of the importance of business ethics with specific relation to production and
operations management course. Productions and operations management is principally
concerned with issues of production and operations, and how to improve business and
decision-making processes to raise company efficiencies and quality standards. Ethics
cannot be divorced from this process as companies must apply problem-solving skills to
resolve ethical conflicts which may arise. Studentsawareness of ethical issues and their
reflections regarding the consequences of unethical behaviour are important requirements as
future leaders in business and management.
Recent incidents, with the use of artificial intelligence (AI), such as the case of a defective
robot accidently killing a factory worker in 2015, cases of driverless cars operated by Tesla
Motors and Uber involved in fatal accidents, or the use of Google Assistant new services
Duplex with perceived invasion of privacy and transparency concerns, have created a host of
new moral, ethical, philosophical and legal considerations which business and larger society
will have to grapple with (Burton et al., 2017).
A small group of 26 business undergraduate students were asked to reflect on the role of
ethics at the end of production and operations management course. This paper examines the
responses and analyse the main themes arising from the student reflection and feedback.
This approach to the subject is not new one, and it is often the view that gathering such
important feedback on student perceptions about ethics is far more important than teacher
instruction (Rudnicka, 2005;Suwardi, 2014).
This study is by no means representative of a detailed research work and analysis on the
topic, but rather seeks to obtain first impressions and insights, which may be used in further
Business ethics is the study of moral right or wrong as applied to business (Duarte, 2008).
Factors influencing studentsperception of business ethics
A number of factors influence studentsperceptions about business ethics. Differences in
view may range from factors such as national cross-cultural issues, religious and social,
gender related, moral attitudes and values, educational level and professional specialization
amongst others.
(1) Cultural, cross-cultural and national factors
In a number of research studies worldwide, it is generally accepted that cultural and national
differences play an important role. In their study in Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong,
Phau and Kea (2007) examined the link between culture and business ethics and found that
views varied significantly across these nations. They posit that organisational culture may
play a more significant role rather than the individuals perceived attitudes.
In addition, a countrys understanding of acceptabilityor acceptable modes of
behaviour may vary from state to state, although they accepted that this notion may be less
relevant in the present modern organisational structure due to cultural convergence as a
result of globalization.However, significant differences still exist culturally where certain
World Journal of
Entrepreneurship, Management
and Sustainable Development
Vol. 16 No. 2, 2020
pp. 71-79
© Emerald Publishing Limited

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