International Business Ethics

Discipline: Semester at Sea Seminars
Instructor: Harvey
Credits: 3
Day: A
Start: 0800
End: 0915
Field Work: Day 1 - Cape Town - Friday, 28 March | South Africa
Prerequisites: None Download Syllabus

The goal of this course is to understand the individual, organizational, and cultural factors that influence ethical/unethical workplace behaviors. Emphasis will be placed on cultural factors that help determine what is considered unethical behavior in different parts of the world and the factors that cause employees to violate culture-specific ethical norms. Although we will consider a wide range of cultures in our discussions, particular emphasis will be placed on the cultures we are visiting on our voyage.

The course uses a combination of newspaper articles, textbook readings, and cases to introduce students to the ethical challenges faced by organizations. The articles are used to provide “real-life” examples of unethical behavior. We will examine these to determine the likely causes and consequences of the behaviors. The textbook readings provide additional insight into these causes and consequences. They also provide solutions for preventing unethical behavior based on modern research. The case studies allow us to use this knowledge to analyze hypothetical ethical dilemmas and to develop solutions. This experience should help students respond appropriately to ethical dilemmas they face in their own work experiences.

At the end of the course, students should:

  • Understand how ethical norms differ between cultures
  • Be familiar with individual-level factors that motivate unethical behavior
  • Be familiar with organization-level factors that motivate unethical behavior
  • Understand what organizational managers can do to prevent unethical behavior

Field Work

Country: South Africa
Day: 1 - Cape Town - Friday, 28 March

Two recurring themes of this course are the ability of individuals to psychologically justify behaviors that violate ethical norms and the notion that these ethical norms can vary significantly across cultures. The South African apartheid era is a particularly strong illustration of both of these themes. It also provides an example of how social practices and norms can become institutionalized and affect the workplace. To gain an intimate perspective on life during apartheid we will participate in the Journey of Remembrance tour. This tour is conducted by individuals who were directly impacted by apartheid-era policies, giving students the opportunity to interact with people with the unique experience of being affected by behaviors that most would see as unethical but that were fully consistent with apartheid-era ethical norms. Academic Objectives:

  1. Learn about organizational structures and cultures that existed during era of apartheid.
  2. Learn about ethical workplace challenges that have arisen since the end of apartheid era.
  3. Learn how organizational ethical norms changed to mesh with changing cultural norms.