Global Business Ethics

Discipline: Semester at Sea Seminars
Instructor: Müller
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 0925
End: 1040
Field Class: Day 1 - Shanghai - Tuesday, 03 February | China Download Syllabus

This is a business ethics course for students interested in investigating the nature of ethics and understanding how and why ethical norms and behaviors differ in various cultures. The course consists of three main parts.


First, we will explore some fundamental theoretical issues regarding ethics including the question what “ethics” are, why they matter, and why humans need and – mostly unconsciously – apply ethical norms.


Second, you will investigate culture-specific ethical norms and behaviors prevalent in the countries of our voyage. Relevant questions include: What are examples of behaviors considered ethical in some cultures but not in others? Are there also norms and behaviors that are universally seen as (un)ethical? What are the reasons for the differences and commonalities? What motivates employees to engage in (un)ethical behavior? How can employees’ behavior be influenced? Also, we will discuss ethical issues related to the different variants of capitalism that evolved in the different areas of the world.


Third, you will learn about theories and concepts that can be applied to ethical decision-making (e.g., virtue ethics, normative ethics, utilitarianism, reciprocity). Case studies presenting management dilemmas that took place in the countries of our voyage will be used to apply these theories. However, these ethical considerations will not only be valuable in business contexts, they will also allow you to become more conscious about your own ethical decision-making processes in daily life.

Field Class

Country: China
Day: 1 - Shanghai - Tuesday, 03 February

The field lab will allow you to get a better understanding of the interplay between government, society, and business in China and explore new trends at the interface of society and business. Our field lab will include three major stops: First, we will visit “Gongyi Xintiandi”, China’s first incubator for social entrepreneurs where you will have the chance to get in touch with local social entrepreneurs. We will then meet with the vice chairman of the German Chamber of Commerce in Pudong who will help you understand how German companies engage with Chinese companies and society for long-term success. Last but not least we will meet the Deputy Secretary-General for Strategy and Policy at Shanghai Song Qing Ling Foundation. He will help us to better understand the roles of government, society, and business and the value framework of businesses. Academic Objectives: 1. Gain a better understanding of the interplay between government, society, and business 2. Better understand the value framework for business ethics in China 3. Understand current trends in shared value creation for businesses and society