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Virtuous Character in Business & Finance

Project Overview

The Virtuous Character in Business and Finance project is one of three projects exploring the ethics of professionals in the second phase of work in the Jubilee Centre, 2015–2017. The project will examine what students and alumni of British business schools say about 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.

The overarching aim is to influence business ethics education in the UK. Business and finance professionals need to rediscover their true vocation which is to serve the wider long-term interests of society. In order to achieve this, the project will lead to changes in how business school students and alumni understand character and in how they conduct themselves as professionals.

Read Matthew Sinnicks' Virtue Insight blog on ethics in business and finance 


The study adopts a cross-sectional, mixed-methods approach. Respondents will be 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 a quantitative survey, a sample of participants will be interviewed.

Literature Review & Findings

A comprehensive literature review has been conducted 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 is becoming increasingly 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.

Project Milestones

Field work is currently underway. Data from first and final year students will be complete by the end of the first semester 2016-2017. The survey has been successfully piloted with a cohort of students and alumni in early 2016.