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Chapter: Business Science - International Business Management - Conflict Management and Ethics in International Business Management

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Ethical Decisions in International Business

Business decision-making tools yield more coherent and justifiable results when used with an understanding of the ethical, social and environmental aspects of the decision-making process.

ETHICAL DECISIONS IN INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS:

 

Business Description (What):

 

Business decision-making tools yield more coherent and justifiable results when used with an understanding of the ethical, social and environmental aspects of the decision-making process. Using a case study approach, this subject is designed to look at such non-financial elements in decisions made within the international business context. Its premise is that to succeed in international business, both corporations and individuals need broad decision-making abilities. This applies in various situations in the international business setting, including business relations with governments, customers, employees and NGOs. This subject considers ethics in terms of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) in international business.

 

The subject provides an experience-based environment where students work on personal application of knowledge. Responsibility for student learning is placed on the students themselves, allowing self-directed choices to be made while at the same time supporting peer learning. Student teams work with nominated industry partners on real-life ethical challenges in international business, as well as providing industry partners with fresh analyses of future challenges. The subject requires an environment where no pre-existing’ right' answers exist and where the search for answers is built upon a continuous process rather than any discrete event.

 

Objectives (Why):

Equip students to deal with ethical questions arising in everyday professional situations in international business contexts, with international business partnerships encouraging students to improve their employability and gain unique access to real-life corporate decision making

 

Support transference of learning from the classroom to the workplace through student interaction with business partners and focusing of assignments on applied topics, the learning journal in particular deepening students' generic ability to learn from experience

 

Help students synthesize their theoretical knowledge into a vision of the ethical challenges that may face business in the future, as well as providing tentative solutions to foreseen challenges.

 

There are mutual and synchronous benefits for all stakeholders, including:

 

For the company: a leadership opportunity for those organizations and individuals involved, bringing current CSR issues to curriculum content within a business faculty. On the other hand, partnered organizations have an opportunity to gain academic understanding of business ethics, the Gen Y perspective and to build an on-campus profile.

 

For the students: by having actual companies involved students gain an authentic understanding of corporate responsibility and sustainability issues facing business today. The development of their ethical, professional and social understanding will then translate into individual employability.

 

For the faculty: a leadership opportunity for business schools in the Australian higher education sector.

 

Practice (How):

This subject has no formal lectures. Face-to-face teaching time is organized as workshops where teams, supported by the teaching staff, work through technical and ethical questions and challenges. Students are given an extensive reading list consisting of core ethical texts and their applications. They also have access to podcast lectures. Each team has a nominated industry partner with which it liaises throughout the unit.

 

Class time is divided into weekly themes (2x3hr sessions each). In the first session, ethical theory taken from the readings is applied to universal questions in business ethics. In the second session each team applies its knowledge to the particular ethical challenges faced by their dedicated industry partner. At the start of the semester industry partners provide each team with an information pack containing key corporate facts and figures, a CSR report and links for further research. Students can ask questions of the industry partner half-way through the subject during a visit to their office/production facilities. At the end of the semester each team presents its findings to the industry partner and engages in dialogue about them. Presentations are held at the offices of the partner company.

 

Direct engagement by student teams with several business operating in an international context. Participating businesses in this subject were sourced through the University's Careers and Employer Relations Office

 

Team assignments are the key learning tool. They are designed so that students can work through ethical questions in a structured and focused manner, benefiting from the experience and expertise of their team members. The questions set for teams require all team members to work cohesively and reach decisions in situations where there is no one right answer. In addition to the team assignment, students are assessed in individual and team quizzes, team presentations and an individual reflective journal and report.

 

 

Industry Engagement:

 

Direct engagement by student teams with several business operating in an international context

 

Participating businesses in this subject were sourced through the University's Careers and Employer Relations Office

 

Enablers:

 

Continuity in unit of study 'ownership', facilitating the constitution, development and permanence of the teaching team

 

Promotional and annual review decisions that reflect the role of learning and teaching activities (L&T), i.e. L&T career pathways encouraged and rewarded

 

Impediments:

 

 

Short, unpredictable ownership cycles and inappropriate decisions on teaching loads

 

Barriers in adequately recognizing L&T development, e.g. scholarship indices for allocating research awards that are not geared to L&T, which only recognize discipline-specific research, restricting scholarly research into T&L

 

Good Practice Principles:

 

Non-financial elements of business decision making as the focus

 

Student teams work with a business operating in an international context Student teams are allocated an industry partner as client

 

Business clients supply an information pack to students

 

Team-based learning increases diversity of skills and experience Peer support, review and self-reflection

 

Students experience real-life business decision making in an international context Extensive student preparation for site visit

 

Exploration of a range of solutions rather than any single, predictable answer Application focus that develops transferable learning, knowledge and skills Practice-based teaching in workshop format supported by podcast lectures

 

Presentation of findings and recommendations to business clients on their premises Businesses get fresh, independent analyses of their future business challenges

 

Faculties deal with business organizations in a corporate manner

 

Participating organizations engage at different points in the design, delivery and evaluation of the subject

 

 

 

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