Business Ethics

The details
Essex Business School
Colchester Campus
Autumn & Spring
Undergraduate: Level 6
Thursday 03 October 2019
Friday 20 March 2020
01 July 2019


Requisites for this module



Key module for

BSC NN25JS Management and Marketing

Module description

By stating their social responsibility and voluntarily taking on commitments which go beyond common regulatory and conventional requirements… companies endeavour to raise the standards of social development, environmental protection and respect of fundamental rights and embrace an open governance, reconciling interests of various stakeholders in an overall approach of quality and sustainability" (European Union Green Paper, 2001: 6).
"Businessmen believe that they are defending free enterprise when they declaim that business is not concerned 'merely' with profit but also with promoting desirable 'social' ends; that business has a 'social conscience' and takes seriously its responsibilities for providing employment, eliminating discrimination, avoiding pollution and whatever else may be the catchwords of the contemporary crop of reformers… Businessmen who talk this way are unwitting puppets of the intellectual forces that have been undermining the
basis of a free society these past decades… there is one and only one social responsibility of business–to use its resources and engage in activities designed to increase its profits so long as it stays within the rules of the game, which is to say, engages in open and free competition without deception or fraud" (Friedman, 1970).
This 10 week module builds upon your existing understandings of management and organisation by considering specifically the ethics of, and in, business. The emergent field of Business Ethics (and associated fields of Corporate Social Responsibility and Sustainability) have made particular contributions in shaping an ethical examination of business. In this module you will be introduced to the origins, practice and theory of Business Ethics. You will be provided with the conceptual and theoretical resources to examine critically the nature of its contributions. Identifying particular assumptions that inform but also constrain the Business Ethics field the module also explores a number of wider literatures and perspectives that provide further resources for a critical examination of the ethics of business.

Module aims

The module aims to:
1. Provide an understanding of business and management as a complex and contested ethical terrain.
2. Provide an appreciation of the emergent discipline of Business Ethics and enable students to identify, explore and critique its contributions.
3. Develop students' appreciation of the basis of ethical reflexivity and agency and awareness of potential inhibitors to their expression in an organised context.
4. Through class discussion, reading, participation and assessment develop students' abilities to engage in critical argumentation that is informed by, and sensitive to, their own and others' ethical perspectives and values.

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module, students will be able to:
1. Understand a range of ethical factors in, and perspectives, practices and critiques of, business and organisation.
2. Develop greater sensitivity and awareness of implied and explicit ethical assumptions and beliefs in their own and others' argumentation.
3. Critically analyse, using appropriate ethical concepts and theory, management and business practices and the contribution of the field of Business Ethics towards enhancing ethical accountability in business.
Skills for Your Professional Life (Transferable Skills)
1. Written Communication
2. Oral Communication
3. Research Skills
4. Critical Thinking
5. Teamwork-Collaboration
6. Digital and Technical Fluency

Module information

No additional information available.

Learning and teaching methods

The module will be delivered through a mixture of formal lectures and classes. You are strongly advised to attend all lectures and seminars and participate fully. In the seminars you will discuss and debate empirical and theoretical research on business ethics, examine relevant influential representations of the ethics of business in film and other media, and consider examples from contemporary organisational practice. Details of the necessary reading and preparation required for the seminars will be provided on Moodle.


  • Crane, Andrew; Matten, Dirk. (2010) Business ethics: managing corporate citizenship and sustainability in the age of globalization, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • The Social Responsibility of Business is to Increase its Profits, by Milton Friedman,
  • Bakan, Joel. (2005) The corporation: the pathological pursuit of profit and power, London: Constable.
  • Crane, Andrew; Matten, Dirk; Glozer, Sarah; Spence, Laura J. (2019) Business ethics: managing corporate citizenship and sustainability in the age of globalization, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Ms Sandra Moog, Dr Stevphen Shukaitis



External examiner

Dr Matthew Higgins
The University of Leicester
Associate Professor in Marketing and Consumption
Available via Moodle
No lecture recording information available for this module.


Further information
Essex Business School

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