Monday, November 22, 2010

Ethics in Business: A Forthright Response to B-School Cheaters


Ponzi schemes … bailout money used to pay bonuses … allegations of fraud … charges of sexual harassment … the shady actions of a few executives can ruin the reputations of individual companies and, at times, whole industries. It’s sometimes hard for the average American to believe that most employees — and most companies — are decent and ethical.

I’ve often said that business schools should be providing MBA candidates with a solid grounding in corporate reputation issues … including, especially, ethics. After all, failing to recognize its ethical responsibilities puts a company at extreme risk — threatening its profitability and even its ability to survive.

So I was really impressed by a video I saw recently on YouTube, in which Professor Richard Quinn, of the College of Business Administration at the University of Central Florida, delivers an articulate and impassioned 14-minute lecture in which he reveals that many members of his class were found to have cheated on the midterm.

“I don’t want to have to explain to your parents why you didn’t graduate, so I went to the Dean and I made a deal,” said Quinn to his class. “The deal is you can either wait it out and hope that we don’t identify you, or you can identify yourself to your lab instructor and you can complete the rest of the course and the grade you get in the course is the grade you earned in the course.”

Those who confess to cheating will also be required to complete a four-hour course in ethics. So far, more than 200 students have already confessed to having cheated.

More strategists with the moral conviction of Professor Richard Quinn could no doubt eliminate the need for whistle blowers in the corporate world.

Technorati Tags: YouTubeRichard Quinn, University of Central Florida, reputation, communications, public relations, business, Makovsky

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