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Ethics In Business Education: Insights From New Education Policy

"When ethical dilemmas emerge in this digital age, they will be more complex and ambiguous. This means the future managers and educators will require a more developed moral reasoning skill set to meet the challenges of this new age."

Customarily the business education space is considered to be far etched from ethical education. However, it is expected that the new normal created by the Covid-19 pandemic would call for a more significant contribution from business education institutions in societal development. Thus, there is a need to re-establish and strengthen higher education's close linkage with society. It is time that we must ponder that how higher education can foster social responsibility and engage in community outreach programmes.

Advancing ethics education in business schools

Community outreach should be in the DNA of the curriculum, and all the courses should, in their capacities must include the elements for uplifting the community and evoke a practical and pragmatic approach to solve the problems at hand. Thus, business education should be relevant to the social realities.

The new education policy guides and supports this endeavour. It reveres ethics and human & constitutional values like empathy, respect for others, respect for public property, liberty, responsibility, equality, and justice.

The pandemic stricken new world demands managers to be able to make decisions in a volatile environment. Therefore, the primary goal of ethics education should be to provide the learner with skills that can identify and resolve ethical dilemmas in such volatility.

However, there is a fierce academic and practitioner debate over whether or not business ethics can be taught and whether or not they have any tangible benefits as far as corporate behaviour is concerned.

A prevalent response from executives and even educators would be to consider business ethics to be some oxymoron. Some believe ethics to be too abstract to offer any practical information to the executive. The other argument popularly presented is that once a person reaches a certain age, no kind of ethics instruction will make any difference in what he decides to do.

The whole argument that the construct of ethics is too abstract to be understood by a manager or business student rests on unfair assumptions. It is commonly believed that either managers or students are not sophisticated enough to gather and grasp abstract ideas or that we can't simplify ethics for pragmatic purposes. Both possibilities do not seem to be carrying much merit. Today both the manager and a business student are expected to make decisions in a volatile market environment.

The discipline of business ethics is undergoing a significant change. Literature and policies around it also have to keep pace with this change. This new paradigm calls for special attention to business ethics education.

What do business graduates need to know about business and ethics?

A student with ethical awareness and ethical reasoning skills can be said to be an ethically educated student. Not only this, he would possess the core and the underlying values of the organization and society at large, and he would be able to respond to an act in an increasingly complex business environment. An ethically educated business student can use power responsibly in a corporate and personal situation and is sensitized to multiple stakeholders' demands.

Society is seen as a major stakeholder in the contemporary business environment. Executives need to become aware of this phenomenon. Society now has high expectations from business houses. If the business fails to deliver on that front, it becomes challenging to survive and be profitable in the long run.

When ethical dilemmas emerge in this digital age, they will be more complex and ambiguous. This means the future managers and educators will require a more developed moral reasoning skill set to meet the challenges of this new age. Speaking on a pragmatic note, business education today should incorporate a broader conception of value than business schools have traditionally legitimized. 

Attention to ethics studies must permeate the curricula of the business schools. The ethical inquiry should be an expected part of an analysis of a business or accounting study. It should recognize, apart from the economic value, a model that assigns some weight to intangible elements like ethical value systems of executives and should integrate moral dimension as an inseparable part of teaching business strategy. 

The curriculum design of the business students should incorporate the specific challenges faced by the communities. Universities need to orient themselves to the needs of the regions. Sharing some working examples can also be helpful input. Students should utilize their knowledge through varied management disciplines in a holistic way for the overall development of the villages and communities.

Apart from sanitation, hygiene, and road facilities, students can educate the villagers about modern farming methods, marketing, financial management, and maximum utilization of water resources. In addition, they can counsel students and also start "skill courses" for improving potential.

An integral part of the student assessment may be the community outreach. Elements like a survey of the social problems, analysis of the development plans of the state/center, and devising a method to create a repository of the feedback on the government policy should be included. In addition, efforts should be made to promote R&D activities in higher education, which helps regional manufacturing sectors.

Business schools should play a vital role in bridging the skill gaps to meet the regional and local labour markets.

NEP 2020: for a strong learning foundation 

The NEP calls for a 'light but tight' regulatory framework to ensure the educational system's integrity, transparency, and resource efficiency through audit and public disclosure while encouraging innovation and out-of-the-box ideas through autonomy, good governance, and empowerment. 

It is imperative on the part of the faculty at business schools to find out how ethics is represented in the thought process of young business students in the digital age today. We at business schools must prepare students to disrupt the existing order of things and enable people to achieve a new and different awareness of the world and their interactions. 

The new education policy presents an excellent opportunity for business schools to show leadership. There is a need to reassert the importance and relevance of management education in addressing society's future challenges through focused efforts.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house


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ethics education business NEP 2020

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