Lawrence P. Ulrich, Ph.D.
|WHY TAKE THIS COURSE IN THIS WAY?|
Several years ago, at the height of the Enron et al. scandal, the headlines of all the newspapers and other media virtually screamed to corporate leaders and the general public that there was a gigantic need for ethical practices in the business profession. This was a general affirmative response addressed not only to corporate leaders but also to Schools of Business. MBA 758 is one small way to address that need. The furor of that time about unethical and illegal practices has subsided as a result of bringing transgressors to justice. But this has been replaced by an even greater furor as a response to recent financial problems (can anyone spell "AIG," "Lehman Brothers," etc.?), which have come to light since September 2008. The need for transparency and ethical vigilance in business practices is no less important now than it was in the wake of Enron. Perhaps the need is even greater now that the ripples of the current financial crisis will touch each taxpayer in profound ways. Ethical reflection should not only react to unethical practices, it can actually prevent them.
This preventive care about management is essential for those who would direct corporate activities. This MBA 758 course can provide tools for managers and those managers who would be future leaders. Both managers and corporate leaders --- there is a difference between the two --- will need the skills for ethical reflection so vital for maintaining a vibrant economic system with a high moral tone. But as we reflect upon the "world of work," we become more and more aware that there is another dimension required for enriching this "world of work." The "value dimension" that Ethics provides can be greatly enhanced by incorporating the value foundations provided by an exploration of the values grounded in "Faith."
A word or two (or maybe more) to orient you to this course, MBA 758 – Principled Organizations: Integrating Faith, Ethics and Work. This is a relatively new course in the MBA curriculum and it is only my fifth time teaching it --- I hope there are many more times to come.
We will be talking a great deal about values in this course as we examine the way individuals plot their way through the world of work. There are many ways to develop and examine values, with the primary ones being values rooted in Faith (a belief system), Ethics (developing a system of principles for guiding our behavior) or simply Self-Reflection (looking inward to discover the “meaning of life”).
“Faith” may be the most difficult context to explore. Since this is a “Catholic-Marianist” University, the MBA program wants to focus on this context most explicitly. Even though we have this focus for “Faith,” (the teachings of Christ [Christianity] and the Roman Catholic Church), we do not wish to exclude those students who may be guided by other sources of value, whether they be Authoritative Teachers (Moses, Budda, Muhammed, Luther, and others) or Authoritative Holy Books (The Bible, The Holy Qur’an, the Bahagavad Gita and others. As a university, we are committed to diversity, even while remaining anchored in our traditions.
Since the University of Dayton, and its MBA Program, is committed to encouraging enrollments by students from China (and perhaps other Asian countries), I think that it is only fitting, in this course, which seeks to explore the value foundations of WORK, to include some familiarity with the rich value foundations of the Eastern hemisphere. In that spirit, I have chosen to include some readings and commentaries from that part of the world. Western philosophy and theology are not the only sources of values that underlie WORK.Thus, when we are engaged in exchanges about the value foundations of “Work,” we welcome comments, contributions, and insights from the inclusion of a variety of foundations of value. We only ask that you give serious attention to the traditions that underlie the commitments of this University and its MBA Program.
The online approach to this course can provide added incentives for your enrollment. In addition to meeting the need for spiritual and ethical reflection on business practices, it has been designed to meet the teamwork objectives of the MBA Program. One of the major advantages of doing this course online is the flexibility in schedules that it allows. Many students in the MBA Program have a variety of obligations that make classroom courses difficult to meet in a busy schedule --- work obligations, travel demands, family involvement, etc. In different terms there are always the Ohio weather uncertainties --- snow, ice, tornado warnings, etc; a problem that I do not have since moving to California. (I only have to worry about earthquakes.) [For me, teaching in the Summer term, as I so sometimes, has advantages that are quite significant because the course keeps me tied to my computer in an air-conditioned environment while the temperatures outside rise to 115-120+. Teaching in the Winter term allows me the luxury of living in a warm and sunny climate and watching the snow fly on my television screen and fall on the mountain tops outside my office window. Yes snow does fall here, but only in the mountains (where, I think, God intended it to fall).]
So, review this course website and consider enrolling in the online version of MBA 758.
There maybe a slight overlap between this course and the other courses, which I teach in the MBA Program [my Leadership course (MBA 659) and Social Responsibility course (MBA 652)] at the beginning when considering ethical systems and principles. But after that section, the courses diverge into very different directions.