Teaching Managerial Ethics : Content and In-class Exercises

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ethicsTeaching ethics is tricky. It’s a highly complex topic and I’ve always debated with myself how to best approach this topic with under-grad students, especially when ethics isn’t a main topic in the course and there’s very limited time. Two of my research projects actually involve looking at unethical behavior and morality as the result dependent variable, mainly from a personal values and situational factors perspective, and so I took it as an especially interesting challenge to try and frame that into a class. (Top image credit)


[UPDATE September 2018: All teaching materials now shared on the teaching page]


In the recent management class I decided to dedicate half of a 3 hours session (1.5 hours altogether) to address the topic of “Managerial Ethics” by highlighting the following issues from a social psychology perspective :

  1. How common unethical behaviors are.
  2. The types of unethical behaviors people do.
  3. What leads people to cheat / Why people cheat.
  4. The type of people tend to cheat more.
  5. The justifications of unethical behavior.
  6. Personal values perspective on ethical dilemmas.
  7. The implications of unethical behavior on stakeholders.
  8. How to resolve ethical and moral dilemmas.


The following was the session powerpoint slides of my session :


In the first part, I used two of Dan Ariely‘s videos talking about unethical behaviors :



I then proceeded for an inclass exercise, students had to watch the following two videos introducing an ethical/moral dilemma related to their academic lives and discuss those:

Group project



For each of those videos they were asked to fill the following document:


We had a discussion about those two cases. The final exam included a 10-point bonus question for them to describe an ethical dilemma they personally faced and to analyze it in exactly the same manner.



At the end of the class, after discussing implications for stakeholders, I explained about the Milgram experiment and we had a short discussions about the implications for people in general and managers in specific :

Altogether, an intense high-impact 1.5 hours about ethics in a slightly more engaging manner.


How do you teach ethics?

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