The Character Virtues in Business and Finance research report was launched on 27th September 2017 at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, London. Drawing on insights from business schools, students, and practitioners, the interdisciplinary report examines character and virtues in the business and finance professions, and the extent to which such students and alumni draw on virtue-based reasoning when confronted with ethical dilemmas.
Summary of Key Findings
- While aspirations to serve the common good were mentioned intermittently by participants as a motivation to pursue business, financial aspirations were more prominent.
- Honesty was much less prevalent as a valued character strength required in business amongst interviewed students.
- Virtue-based reasoning was prevalent among business school alumni for adjudicating workplace dilemmas.
Summary of Recommendations
- The incorporation of real-life moral dilemmas into business ethics education will help facilitate links between moral theory and real business conduct.
- Lecturers should be made aware of their abilities to turn lectures into acts of moral empowerment and students should be taught how to seek and design their own moral development.
- Professional bodies are encouraged to exert greater pressure on business schools to adapt their curricula to the explicitly expressed needs of the current business world for virtuous business practices.
The online appendices for the Character Virtues in Business and Finance report can be downloaded below:
The Character and Virtues in Business and Finance project is one of three projects that has explored the ethics of professionals in the second phase of work in the Jubilee Centre, 2015–2017. The project examined what students and alumni of British business schools say about character and virtues in business and finance professions, and the extent to which such students and alumni drew on virtue-based reasoning when confronted with ethical dilemmas.
Read our Virtue Insight blog on ethics in business and finance
The study adopted a cross-sectional, mixed-methods approach. Respondents were drawn from three career stages: first year undergraduates at the beginning of their course of study, final year students about the graduate, and alumni with at least 5 years work experience. In addition to the quantitative survey, a sample of participants were interviewed, as were business ethics educators at Higher Education institutions.
Literature Review & Findings
A comprehensive literature review was undertaken during the first stage of the project to get an overview of the state of play of virtue ethics in the field of business and finance. While virtue ethics has become fashionable in the field of business ethics, approaches based on its deontological and consequentialist rivals still dominate. This is especially true in the case of empirical research into business ethics.
The research report was launched at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) in London on Wednesday 27th September 2017.