Ethics, Values, and Compliance in Business

Discipline: Semester at Sea Seminars
Instructor: Wenger
Credits: 3
Day: C
Start: 1045
End: 1200
Field Work: Day 1 - Helsinki - Thursday, 6 August | Finland Download Syllabus

In this course we will study business ethics, broadly defined. We will address issues from both an individual level and from an organizational level and we will explicitly engage the added complexity of global business. The prime questions we will explore are: Is the pursuit of profit antithetical to the notion of ethical behavior? How do you think about ethics as an individual navigating a career in business and how do you make the right ethical decisions? What is the impact of differing cultures, legal systems, and religious imperatives and what are practical ways to cope with their variety? How does a business organization design, create, and implement systems that result in all employees behaving consistently with company values, ethical intentions, and legal requirements? Is “compliance” enough or should businesses do more than merely comply? The course will apply a variety of viewpoints including classic and contemporary philosophic frameworks, economic theory, cultural analysis, examination of various legal systems, organizational design, and stakeholder analysis. We will use a mix of guided discussion, case analysis, and readings from academic, professional, and popular sources. We will take advantage of the real world to consider and observe these issues in nine different nations that we visit.

Field Work

Country: Finland
Day: 1 - Helsinki - Thursday, 6 August

In Helsinki, we will spend a day at Nokia -- a company that was founded in 1865 in what was then The Grand Duchy of Finland and was primarily engaged in the pulp and timber business. You may know it more in its modern incarnation as a global mobile phone and telecom giant. You may also have read about Nokia's recent sale of their handset business to Microsoft. After this deal, Nokia still has a network services business, a digital map business and a huge portfolio of patents and other intellectual property. And it has over 50,000 employees in over 120 countries and sells into over 150 countries. We will visit specifically with Nokia's Worldwide Ethics and Compliance executives. Nokia has a renowned ethics and compliance effort that covers all the major issues including worker rights, safety and health, sustainability and environmental impact, privacy, corruption, and customer relations. We will learn first-hand about the reality, challenges, tools, and career opportunities that "business ethics" brings. And as a special bonus, we will be able to discuss the dynamic nature of life in multinational corporations. After the Microsoft deal, the resulting restructuring of operations and transfer of employees will bring a major set of additional issues to the Ethics and Compliance team. This rich experience will allow us to culminate and apply much of what we will have discussed in the course to that date including ethical theories, issues, and the tools businesses and individuals bring to complex, ethically ambiguous situations. Each student team will select (and have approved) one major ethics or compliance arena as a focus for their field lab exploration project. They will use available documentation and interaction with the Nokia executives to explore this topic in depth. Much of the afternoon of our visit will be working sessions. The project deliverable is a report (no more than 15 pages) and an in-class presentation. Academic Objectives: 1.  Discuss real-world applications, issues, and solutions of global business ethics and compliance with senior executives. 2. Apply vocabulary, analytic frameworks, and knowledge developed during class in a professional environment. 3. Learn details of multiple global standards of organizational conduct. 4. Develop understanding of and appreciation for the implications that issues of ethics, values, and compliance bring to your personal career choices.