Governance and Ethics in Business

Module description

Ethics and Corporate Governance explores the moral heart of business, and examines the reasons why businesses exist and how they can be made to fulfil their primary objective, serving the needs of society.  After looking at the basics of ethics, the nature of good and evil and the difference between right and good, we will show how ethics is seldom a matter of black and white and there is often an element of ambiguity.  We will discuss the nature of and need for personal responsibility.  This leads us to corporate governance, where we will discuss codes of governance, the responsibility of directors and the complexities of corporate governance in an international environment.  The end result should be a better understanding of how morality and responsibility pervade the tasks of the manager and the nature of management itself.

Internationalisation:  You will be given a global introduction to corporate governance through international case studies and an overview of governance codes in a variety of countries.

Sustainability: Sustainability issues are discussed with particular reference to research on the ethical supply chain in the fishing industry in Cornwall and Devon.

External Engagement: This module is part of the One Planet MBA course which was created in collaboration with WWF. Previous guest speakers on this module have included an expert on Corporate Social responsibility from Cranfield University and an expert on Ecocide.

Employability:  Through this module you will raise your  awareness of important issues at the heart of business: governance and ethics. A greater awareness of these concerns helps you to understand how ethics should be incorporated into the running of a business and its treatment towards employees.

Full module specification

Module title:Governance and Ethics in Business
Module code:MBAM814
Module level:M
Academic year:2014/5
Module lecturers:
  • Mr Morgan Witzel -
Module credit:12
ECTS value:






Duration of module: Duration (weeks) - term 2:

4-day module (+ study 8 weeks)

Module aims

The module aims to give you an understanding of the nature of ethics and morality and how it

shapes managerial practice. The module will encourage you  to reflect on their own

understandings and responses to challenging issues within the workplace, enabling you to become

more reflexive in your practice, as well as giving you an understanding of ethical perspectives. Themodule will also explore modes of governance and corporate social responsibility in the global

economy, enabling you  to understand how to organise and structure organisations to assist in

responsible practice. You will also be expected to assess the value and appropriateness of modes

of governance and responsibility. The module content and the learning methods will help you

develop skills of critical analysis and problem-solving, the formulation of reasoned arguments and the

imaginative communication of ideas.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Critically evaluate the types of challenges organisations, and their managers, face in today's society.
  • 2. Evaluate some of the ethical dimensions of management, governance, and responsible management practice.
  • 3. Critically synthesise ethical, business and behavioural perspectives within organisations.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 4. Demonstrate analytical skills in assessing management practices, and construct an argument when analysing various approaches.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 5. Engage effectively in independent study
  • 6. Demonstrate the self-confidence to question, logically argue and coherently defend your own understanding.
  • 7. Develop and produce a high quality written assignment.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Contact hours28Lectures and interactive seminars

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Group discussionOf varying length throughout the programme1-8Oral feedback

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Assignment (individual)100%3500 words1-8Written feedback on assignment

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
Individual Assignment (100%)Individual Assignment 3500 words (100%)1-86 weeks from briefing

Syllabus plan

Introduction to governance and ethics in a complex world. Origins of modern corporate governance movement. Global and Pan European Codes. Governance regimes. Governance and the global economy. Separation of ownership and control. Enron and WorldCom. Governance and ethics in practice: the case of Union Carbide, Bhopal. The global financial crisis. The banking crisis in Ireland and Iceland. Ethics and the environment: Ecocide (rights to nature and life; property law versus trusteeship). Corporate social responsibility. Managing ethically: UN Global Compact; cultural relativism and ethical imperialism; the social responsibility of business; the corporate responsibility of business; case studies on supply chain ethics (Primark; tar sands, Nike).

Indicative learning resources - Basic reading

Basic reading:
Burchell, J (ed.) (2008) The Corporate Social Responsibility Reader, London, Routledge.
Crane, A. and Matten, D (2004) Business Ethics: a European Perspective, Oxford, OUP.
Fisher, C. and Lovell, A. (2009) Business Ethics and Values: Individual Corporate and International Perspectives. Pearson.
Keasey, K., Thompson, S. and Wright, M. (2005) Corporate Governance: Accountability, Enterprise and International Comparison, Chichester, John Wiley and Sons Ltd. (on order for Library).
Mallin, C (2010) Corporate Governance, 3rd Edition, Oxford, OUP.


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