- Peer Review: “Conversation About Business Ethics”
Conversation About Business Ethics
- Jul 2, 2002 by Business
- The Values Institute at the University of San Diego produced this seminar with
Dr. Thomas Shanks of the Markkula Center for Ethics at The University of Santa
Clara. The module is web-based video, 52-minutes in length, which presents a
discussion about state of business ethics. Other faculty as well as students are
also featured on the video.
- Type of Material:
- Lecture/Seminar (video)
- Recommended Uses:
- Used as a overview and introduction to issues and situations regarding the
ethics of business.
- Technical Requirements:
- Pentium speed computer, fast Internet access (at least 50 BPS), and Real Player
- Identify Major Learning Goals:
- The learning goals of the session appear to be to increase the audience?s
awareness of: (1) the meaning and definition of ?business ethics?; (2) the
relevance of caring about business ethics in today?s workplace; (3) increasing
awareness of one?s personal values (ethics) and their application at work; (4)
confronting issues that require ethical decision-making. Dr. Shanks also
provides pedagogical suggestions and examples for the teaching of ethics.
- Target Student Population:
- Faculty, College students, graduate students, and professionals.
- Prerequisite Knowledge or Skills:
- Some introduction to business.
- : ?Conversation About Business Ethics? is very much what the title implies, with
Dr. Shanks as the seminar leader. While the video is long, the quality of the
material covered in the session and the exchanges between Dr. Shanks, faculty
and students makes this a worthwhile module. Shanks outlines a theoretical
framework for business ethics, which is grounded in real-life examples, relevant
literature, current events, and his own consulting, experiences. The session
flows seamlessly flows from the seemingly simple to the complex. Shanks is very
articulate, a good listener as well as teacher, and if one is really interested
in learning more about the field of business ethics, then one should take the
time to watch this video.
- As mentioned earlier, the video is long and no clear overview or objectives are
provided prior to the conversation. Therefore it is difficult to assimilate and
piece together the range of information and material that is discussed in the
seminar. This is also a ?talking heads? format, and some viewers may simply not
have the patience to watch the entire session.
In addition, there are various times during the conversation when Dr. Shanks
mentions numerous academic books and articles, but it is difficult to capture
the exact citations that were referenced. The video could be improved immensely
by attaching or linking it to some slides or links that provide additional
This is really not a stand-alone module. Instructors, if they are to utilize
this video, will need to create a good set up, provide a better context for the
Shanks conversation, and add discussion questions that students could use after
watching the video.
Potential Effectiveness as a Teaching Tool
- While this module requires students to passively view the video, Dr. Shanks is
an engaging seminar leader who asks session participants questions throughout
the discussion. Shanks continuously interacts with participants, building on
their comments, illustrating his points with examples, so even the video
audience can become engaged at a critical thinking level.
The video could also be used to illustrate what a quality seminar looks like,
and how the instructor involves participants in the material/discussion. It is
also interesting to note that the some of the participants during the discussion
pose very difficult questions to Dr. Shanks and actively challenge his ideas.
Some play the role of ?devil?s advocate,? expressing counter-positions that may
mirror the reactions of some viewers.
- While the video is extremely interesting, viewers are not given clear objectives
for the session, and very little context is established at the start of the
video. It would be helpful if an overview of the discussion?s objectives and
format were included on the web site from which the video is accessed. Providing
a cogent outline/summary of the session?s key points, learning objectives,
which could be linked to the video segment, could enhance the module. Since the
video is long, if it is technically feasible, the minute-counter positions for
key points could be included in this summary/outline and made available for
Ease of Use for Both Students and Faculty
- This module requires that the user have an updated version of Real Player
software on their computer (I needed to upgrade to version 8.0). Once I had the
new version of Real Player installed, then it was relatively easy access the
video. Real Player operates much like a CD or DVD player, so one can stop,
start, fast-forward the video at will. The minute counter also will allow the
user to keep track of where they are in the video in case they choose to watch
the video in segments.
- Technical obstacles may present a problem for assigning this module to students.
Students will need to have access to a fairly fast computer, with a fairly fast
Internet connection (at least 50 BPS), and Real Player version 8.0 software.
Most computer labs on most university campuses should meet this requirement, but
it is important to check beforehand.